Seizure In Pracha’s Office Should Be Videographed: Delhi Court 

Advocate Mehmood Pracha is alleged to have created a fabricated complaint for a victim of the Delhi violence.

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Law
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Advocate Mehmood Pracha is alleged to have created a fabricated complaint for a victim of the Delhi violence.
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On Saturday, March 27, a Delhi Court ordered that the procedure of conducting search and seizure at Mehmood Pracha’s office to be videographed. Mehmood Pracha is alleged to have created a fabricated complaint for a victim of the Delhi violence.

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana further appointed the “youngest counsel in the courtroom”, Avneet Kaur, as the local commissioner to supervise the process of search and seizure at Pracha’s office.

It is jointly proposed at the bar that in order to ensure the purity and sanctity of the data in question, a local commissioner be appointed and the charges shall be borne by the revisionist.
ASJ Dharmender Rana

Pracha to Pay for Supervision

While appointing the local commissioner, the court ordered that the fee of Rs. 25,000 towards the appointment shall be borne by Pracha.

Further, the court directed Pracha to fully cooperate with the procedure conducted by the investigating agency.

Advocate Avneet Kaur, enrolled as a lawyer in 2020, was appointed by the Court as the local commissioner after observing her to be the youngest counsel in the courtroom.

Delhi Court Orders Execution of Search Warrant In Pracha's Office

The present order has come in a plea moved by Pracha, challenging the order of a chief metropolitan magistrate who on March 26 allowed the police to seize Pracha’s computer in ‘accordance with law and subject to safeguards of expert opinion’.

The search warrant had been issued on 4 March, Pracha had approached the court on 9 March after ‘about 100 police officials’ came to his office to seize his computer. The court had ordered a stay on the warrant as long as the matter was being heard. With the court disposing of the plea on 25 March, the 4 March search warrant has become operational again. This means the police are allowed to seize his computer, in a manner, as the order details, that is in ‘accordance with law and subject to the safeguards as per expert opinion’.

The search warrant states, “This is to authorise and require the investigating officer of this case to search and seize the computer having primary evidence/document which was identified on the previous search which is present at the office premises of Mr Mehmood Pracha. (sic)”

The court said that it cannot interfere when IO feels that the target data must be taken from the source, nor can the accused dictate how evidence is to be collected if it’s established that other data will be protected.

Referring to Section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act and Bar Council Conduct Rules, the court said the reference is misplaced as the same envisages the voluntary sharing of data by the attorney or deposing against the client.

What the Case Is About

In a press note issued by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Delhi Police Special Cell, Manishi Chandra after the first raid in December last year, details of the searches conducted at advocate Pracha’s office were revealed. The allegation against Pracha under FIR 212/2020 dated 22 August was regarding him creating a concocted/fabricated complaint for a victim of the northeast Delhi riots.

The victim, Irshad Ali, was allegedly made to falsely depose in court. “These findings were supported by the witnesses of this case who recorded their testimonies under Section 164 of CrPC before the concerned hon’ble courts,” the report read.

Ali, whose shop was allegedly burnt and looted during the northeast Delhi riots, had told the court that he could not identify the accused named in his complaint as he did not know who the people were. This happened in August 2020, after which Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav directed the police to investigate the allegations, pass appropriate directions, and requested the Delhi Commissioner of Police to look into the matter.

In the August 2020 police report, the police explained that, “During the investigation, he (Ali) was enquired about Deepak, Navneet, and Mintu, as mentioned in his complaint. He said that he knew them by their names and did not know anything about them personally. He also stated that he did not identify the accused persons in the video.”

PTI reported how the police report included Ali’s brother, Dilshad's statement as well. Dilshad had said they both were home when they got the call about the shop being looted and, hence, had not actually seen anyone loot their shop, contrary to the complaint submitted in his brother’s name.

Pracha had said he was willing to risk self implication to protect the interest of other clients, “They want my computer, which I am not willing to give. Giving the entire computer will compromise the information of other clients whose life could be at stake. That is why, today I am making an offer and risking self implication in this matter by accepting that the statement in question was prepared at my office, using my computer, and sent using my office computer. I am willing to accept that to protect the interest of other clients, whose data will be exposed if my computer is seized.”

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