The Patiala House Court in Delhi on Friday reserved its order on the plea filed by advocate Mehmood Pracha challenging the raids at his office conducted by the police earlier in March, Bar and Bench reported. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma said that the orders will be passed on the matter on March 22.
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 approached the court on March 10, challenging the Delhi Police Special Cell’s search warrants after they raided his office. The court had stayed the search warrants till March 12.
The police had searched Pracha’s office in December too.
In the previous hearing on March 13, the court had asked Delhi Police to file its response on how it proposes to retrieve data from Pracha’s pen drive without disclosing information related to the lawyer’s other clients. Meanwhile, the stay order on the search remained in effect.
On Friday, Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad, representing the Delhi Police said that they will not file a written response. He, however, made oral submissions, Bar and Bench reported.
In his arguments, Prasad urged the court to vacate the stay order on the search, contending that it was limiting the scope of investigation into the matter, Live Law reported.
Prasad also objected against the court’s observation made in the March 13 hearing, where it had cited Section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act, which it said protects data and files related to Pracha’s clients. The public prosecutor however argued that the attorney-client privilege under Section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act cannot be extended to Section 93 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Live Law reported.
Section 93 of the CrPC states that a court can issue a search warrant to a person against whom such a warrant has already been issued under Section 91 of the CrPC, but there is reason to believe that he/she will not produce the document summoned for.
Prasad further said that that an accused cannot be allowed to dictate the terms of an investigation. Bar and Bench reported.
“Today there is an accused who is a lawyer, tomorrow there will be politician or doctor,” Prasad said, according to Live Law. “But by putting such question to investigating agency, are we not prejudging it?”
Contesting Pracha’s submission in a the previous hearing that the police can retrieve only the relevant information from a pen drive, as opposed to seizing the entire hard disk, Prasad said that will limit the scope for investigation, Bar and Bench reported.
The court then listed the application for order on March 22 and asked Pracha to file any clarifications that might be needed.