A Delhi Court on Friday reserved orders on the application filed by Advocate Mehmood Pracha challenging the raids and seizure of data done by the Delhi police from his office.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma of Patiala House Courts said that orders will be pronounced on Monday(March 22).
Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad told the Court that the application filed by Pracha was limiting the scope of investigation. Moreover, the SPP also submitted before the that the protection under Section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act(on attorney-client privilege) cannot extend to Section 93 of CrPC(which deals with search warrants). According to the SPP, such a classification is not within the permit of law and is in violation of Art. 14.
Previously, the Court had sought the response of the Investigating Officer on how it proposes to receive the "target data"of the pen drive without creating any evidentiary vulnerability and without any alteration or disclosure to other data relating to Mr. Pracha's clients.
During the course of today's hearing, the SPP made oral submissions in respect of the reply sought by the Court, however, he informed the Court that he does not wish to file any written reply in the matter.
The SPP urged the Court to vacate the stay on search.
"Today there is an accused who is a lawyer, tomorrow there will be politician or doctor. But by putting such question to investigating agency, are we not prejudging it? " SPP submitted in the Court.
Denying the submission made by Advocate Mehmood Pracha on the previous hearing stating that the police wanted to make "an encounter like situation in order to kill him", SPP submitted "He argued, they want to kill me. Whether even a single bullet was fired? What kind of arguments are these."
The Court on earlier occasion opined that the issue of retrieval of target data without interference with the other data stored in the hard disk has to be meticulously looked upon and at the same time, obtaining target data without creating any evidentiary vulnerabilities to future purpose has to be considered because it is important for the IO to maintain authenticity and integrity of target data.
The Court vide order dated 10th March 2021 stayed the operation of the search warrant issued by the Delhi Police's Special Cell against Mehmood Pracha till the pendency of his application.
Advocate Mehmood Pracha moved the application against the second raid conducted by the Special Cell in his office on 9th March, thereby calling the whole exercise as "completely illegal and unjustified". Pracha has been representing many accused persons in the Delhi Riots conspiracy cases that broke out in February last year.
While alleging that the sole objective of conducting the second raid was to illegally steal the entire data of the sensitive cases he has been dealing with, Pracha in his application contended that he is going to the extent of risking self-implication even in derogation of his Fundamental Right only for the sake of protecting the data and information pertaining to his clients and briefs which he is duty bound to protect as an advocate.
During the previous proceedings, Advocate Pracha had submitted in the Court that:
"It is my fundamental and constitutional right to protect the interest of my clients. To save their integrity. They have deliberately put my and my clients life under threat. This is also sensitive data. They want to act under their political masters. I cannot give such data. If you want to hang me, do it. But I cannot sacrifice my attorney privilege communication."
"I am offering my neck to save my clients life. I am willing to face Gallows for protecting my clients life. I am ready to be the lamb. Tell your political masters to hang me. But I will not let them harm my life. Come what may." Advocate Mehmood Pracha had submitted.