Special Cell Searches Delhi Riot Lawyer Mehmood Pracha’s Office
The police claims to be looking for “incriminating documents” according to the search warrant.
The Delhi Police Special Cell on Thursday 24 December searched the office of advocate Mehmood Pracha, who is handling several cases related to the February 2020 Northeast Delhi violence where at least 53 people died.
The raids at Pracha's office in Delhi’s Nizamuddin East began at around 12.30 PM and continued to be there till at least 8:30 PM.
The Special Cell's search warrant issued on 22 December to the investigating officer of FIR 212/2020 that has been accessed by The Quint, reads: "Whereas information has been laid before me of the commission of offences punishable under section 182, 193, 420, 468, 471, 472, 473, 120B and it has been made to appear to me that incriminating data comprising false complaint and meta data of outbox of email account which was used to send incriminating documents are essential to the investigation of FIR 212/20 of Police Station Special Cell, New Delhi".
The various sections stand for the following, section 182 is false information with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person, section 193 is punishment for false evidence, section 420 is cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, section 468 is forgery for purpose of cheating, section 471 using as genuine a forged document or electronic record, section 472 is making or possessing counterfeit seal, etc, with intent to commit forgery punishable under section , section 473 is making or possessing counterfeit seal, etc with intent to commit forgery punishable otherwise and section 120B is criminal conspiracy.
Speaking to The Quint, a colleague who is in the office premises, said, “We told them we can not let them take our computers as this would be against client-attorney privilege. We said this was our right and we are also bound by ethics. The police then used their pen drives, plugged it to three computers in the office and took material. We have no idea what they took from us. They are not letting us touch anything either.”
A video of the search shows an argument between Pracha and the police in which the former is protesting against the seizure of the laptops and computers. "This is violation of the order," Pracha can be heard telling the officer.
The warrant goes on to say, “This is to authorize and require investigating officer of this case to search for the said incrementing documents and meta data of out of box of email ID, wherever they may be found whether in computer or in the office/premises of Sh Mehmood Pracha.” It also directs the police to conduct the search during day hours and that there be videography of the search proceedings to ensure fairness.
An FIR with allegations of forgery was registered by Delhi Police Special Cell on the directions of the Delhi High court earlier in August 2020. The case is being probed by the Special Cell. Delhi Police told ANI, “"A search warrant issued by the court is being executed". ANI added that the ‘raids are being conducted in connection with the Delhi riots case’. The Quint reached out to a Delhi Police PRO who said that a statement will be shared later. This story will be updated as and when they respond.
Several members of the legal fraternity such as Indira Jaising and Prashant Bhushan came out in support of Pracha.
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