A Delhi court on Wednesday stayed the search warrants issued against advocate Mehmood Pracha, a day after he challenged them following the Delhi Police Special Cell’s raids at his office, Bar and Bench reported.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at the Patiala House Court Pankaj Sharma said that he will pass an order on Pracha’s application on March 12. The court also directed the investigating officer in the matter to produce the case diary, Live Law reported.
The police had searched Pracha’s office in December too.
Pracha, who has been fighting cases on behalf of many accused in the large-scale communal violence that broke out in the Capital in February 2020, had said in his plea against the warrant that the Delhi Police’s demand to take away the hard disks of his computers were “completely illegal and unjustified”. The advocate said the documents that the authorities have asked for were “already in their possession from the previous exercise”.
In Wednesday’s hearing, Pracha represented himself. He said that the reply provided by the Delhi Police in response to his application was an “evasive” one and that he was not provided a notice under Section 91 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure, before the search, Live Law reported. Section 91 of the CrPC grants power to a court or an officer to issue summons or a written order to a person to produce a document or any other thing that is needed for an investigation or trial.
He sought orders from the court directing the police to retrieve only the relevant information from the hard disk of his computer in the presence of a magistrate, as opposed to seizing the entire hard disk, Bar and Bench reported. He also argued that the police wanted to target his clients.
“They want to threaten my clients...that’s their purpose,” Pracha said. “In the main Delhi Riots cases, they say soft copy is equal to hard copy and we would not give hard copy of charge sheet. Here they don’t want soft copy.”
The lawyer accused the police of acting “under their political masters” and said that they were putting the lives of him and his clients under threat, Live Law reported. “If you want to hang me, do it,” Pracha said. “But I cannot sacrifice my attorney privilege communication.”
Opposing the application, Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad argued that seizing the original hard disk was essential so that it could be sent to a forensic science laboratory for examination, Bar and Bench reported.
“We will have a second mirror copy exactly like the original one,” Prasad proposed to the court as a solution, Live Law reported. “You [Pracha] can delete your client data which you want.”
To this, Pracha objected contending that data could be retrieved even from a mirror copy of the hard disk. “How hard it is to retrieve data from mirror copy?” the lawyer argued. “They know it and I know it. Special cell is expert to hack data.”
The court then posted the matter till March 12 for the order and stayed the search warrants against Pracha.