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"Raid Continued Even After Midnight, Entitled To Copies Of Videography Footage For Ensuring Fairness And To Bring Out Truth": Mehmood Pracha Tells Delhi Court

Nupur Thapliyal
13 April 2021 11:43 AM GMT
Raid Continued Even After Midnight, Entitled To Copies Of Videography Footage For Ensuring Fairness And To Bring Out Truth: Mehmood Pracha Tells Delhi Court
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A Delhi Court on Tuesday heard Advocate Mehmood Pracha's application seeking supply of copies of the material seized including the copy of videography footage recorded while the officials of Delhi Police's Special Cell conducted the first raid dated 24th December 2020 in his office premises. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma heard the arguments made by Advocate Mehmood...

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A Delhi Court on Tuesday heard Advocate Mehmood Pracha's application seeking supply of copies of the material seized including the copy of videography footage recorded while the officials of Delhi Police's Special Cell conducted the first raid dated 24th December 2020 in his office premises.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma heard the arguments made by Advocate Mehmood Pracha highlighting that the record in the case is not only restricted to the paperwork but also includes videography and for this reason, he is entitled for the copy of such footage forming part of the search and seizure operation.

Advocate Pracha began by submitting before the Court that there were two broad issues involved in the case i.e. a false complaint filed in the matter and the other concerning the metadata of outbox of email account which has been alleged to have used to send incriminating documents.

While submitting that the raid continued even after midnight, Advocate Pracha also argued before the Court that the report on execution of search warrant dated 22nd December 2020 reads that after waiting for almost 10 hours and following maximum restraint, the team left the place post midnight.

"As per their own version, they have admitted that they have searched my outbox with my cooperation and produced documents by way of electronic medium and they have satisfied themselves with one half of the search warrants. Its their own case. They are themselves admitting that the search continued till midnight." Pracha submitted.

Submitting that even the videography footage forms part of the search and seizure under sec. 165 of CrPC, Pracha also submitted that such footage is also an admissible evidence because the entire procedure of the alleged suspicious complaint, according to Pracha, "forms a visibility in the videography made."

"This video footage forms part of search and seizure not only because it was recorded but also because the videography of my computers was recorded while they were searched by so called police party. Therefore it would also become part of search material because in that case, it is also admissible evidence and recovery based. Because entire procedure of that suspicious complaint, which is the subject matter of the court, also forms a visibility in the videography made. That will establish that the substance of this Court's direction under search warrant was satisfied fully. Nothing was left for which a second warrant was warranted." Pracha submitted.

Arguing that he is entitled by law to get the supply of the footage, he argued that it is also a mandatory duty on the Police Officials to keep the Magistrate in the loop so that the fairness of investigation is ensured.

"In this case also, if the police and investigation officers have not violated the directions of law under CrPC and other laws and also this Hon'ble Court's specific directions, then they should be volunteering to give the footage. A person who has got something to hide, hides the evidence and proof. There is a presumption against them. It would be grave injustice caused to me if I am not provided for that would allow me to show how they committed crimes and violated law." Pracha argued.

After recording the submissions made by Advocate Pracha, the Judge adjourned the matter for further hearing on April 29.

In the previous hearing, Pracha had alleged that the Special Cell has allegedly manipulated the case files in the instant matter.

It is pertinent to note that vide order dated 27th March, ASJ Dharmender Rana appointed the youngest counsel in the Court to be the local commissioner under whose supervision the process of seizing and sealing of the computer source from Pracha's office will be undertaken by the IO in the matter.

About the Case

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.

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