On Thursday, the Delhi police special cell raided the office of lawyer Mahmood Pracha in Nizamuddin East.
Pracha’s Legal Axis company is defending several people accused in several cases related to the Delhi riots in February of this year – these cases include those in which sections of the Strict Unlawful Activity Prevention Act (UAPA) were invoked.
In August, police told a Delhi court that Pracha had forged documents and instigated a man to testify unfairly in a riot case. Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav, in an order, said “it would be appropriate if the matter were investigated by an independent agency such as Crime Branch or Special Cell.” A FIR was filed in the matter.
According to Pracha’s partner, attorney Digvijay Singh, the law firm is handling nearly 150 riot-related cases, including one filed against student activist Gulfisha Fatima, who is in judicial custody in a UAPA case.
Additional PRO (Delhi Police) Anil Mittal said: “In the course of a bail issue relating to a defendant in the riots in Northeast Delhi, the use of a forged notary’s stamp and the creation of alleged false / manipulated evidence by hand of some members of the Bar was noted. The Special Court had observed that this required a thorough investigation. Based on this, criminal proceedings under the appropriate sections of law were filed and investigations were initiated. “
“During the course of the investigation, search warrants for electronic and other evidence from the premises of two members of the Order have been obtained by the Court and they are professionally executed in one location in Nizamuddin and another in Yamuna. Vihar, “He said.
The search warrant, issued December 22 under Section 93 of the CrPC, states: “This is to authorize and request the investigating officer of this case to search for the aforementioned incriminating documents and metadata of the outgoing mail of the email ID. … wherever they can be found whether on the computer or in the office / premises … including the outgoing mail of the email ID … as well as in other offices / premises where the presence of such evidence is detected during the search / investigation and, if found, to produce the same immediately before this court. “
Cops blocked the entrance to Pracha’s office in Nizamuddin East while searches were underway. In the evening, from the second floor balcony, Pracha said: “My phone has been confiscated. I am threatened. I told them they can take things from my computers, my office, and even my home. At the end of the day, the Constitution will win. He’s not that weak … We’ll make sure that every riot victim gets justice. “
The lawyers working with Pracha have filed a petition with CMM Pankaj Sharma against the seizure of material. It should be heard on Friday.
The question asks the IO to clarify the search warrant, stating that the team is “obliged to provide alleged documents and is also told that otherwise all computers, documents etc. at these premises will be seized”.
Senior attorney Indira Jaising, in a Twitter post, described the research as “a direct attack on the fundamental right of the right to legal representation” and said that “all lawyers must condemn this attack.”
Senior Attorney Chander Uday Singh said: “This raid will have a chilling effect on legal representation if the attorney’s documents are searched and seized at random.”
Attorney Prashant Bhushan said, “The targeting of lawyers defending those who have been framed is the next step in this conspiracy to frame protesters, activists and their lawyers in the guise of an investigation.”