Confusion and controversy surrounded an hour-long police search of a lawyer representing some of the accused in the case of the riots in northeast Delhi.
The Delhi Police Special Cell on Thursday conducted searches of senior lawyer Mahmood Pracha’s office in Nizamuddin in connection with a case brought against him. However, Pracha filed a police complaint that fraudsters posing as police officers visited his office and retrieved information from his computers in USB sticks.
Police denied this, saying the search was theirs and they had a court order.
A person from Pracha’s office who did not want to be named said late Thursday evening that police teams were still in Pracha’s office.
During the day, a video of plainclothes police officers in Pracha’s Nizamuddin office showing Pracha demonstrating to police officers that he could not divulge the information the police were looking for was broadcast on social media. The video can be heard police officers telling him they have a court order that will allow them to search his office. In response, Pracha is heard citing legal and client law, which prevents him from revealing information stored in any of the computer systems and that while the police are free to scan the computers in his office, he is not Would share details with them.
The video also shows Pracha and the police arguing over the validity of the warrant.
Pracha represents a number of people accused of violence or conspiracy to cause the unrest that hit northeast Delhi in February. His clients include Bhim Sena boss Chandrashekhar Azad and Gulfisha Fatima.
Pracha could not be reached for comment despite repeated calls to him and his office. The person from his office quoted above said that the police also confiscated the lawyer’s phone. HT was unable to independently verify this.
Delhi police said they had visited Pracha’s office in connection with a case. On August 22nd, police registered an FIR against Pracha after one of the riot victims told a court that the attorney had asked him to fake a deposit and accuse three people of rioting. The police then informed the court that they had initiated proceedings against Pracha for providing the court with false information, fraud, forgery and criminal conspiracy.
At the time, Pracha denied the police’s allegations, saying the case was intended to intimidate him. Pracha was also a prominent face of protests against the Citizenship Change Act.
In response to Pracha’s allegations that fraudsters raided his office as police officers, police issued a statement Thursday evening. It read: “In the course of bail on a defendant of the NED riot, the use of a forged notary’s stamp and the creation of allegedly false / manipulated evidence by certain members of the bar association was found. The learned special court had determined that this required a thorough investigation. As a result, a criminal case has been registered under the relevant legal sections and an investigation has started. ”
Police said that during the investigation, search warrants were obtained from the court to look for electronic and other evidence in two locations and that they carried them out on Thursday.