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Delhi court quashes Mehmood Pracha plea

Disposing of the petition, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Dr. Pankaj Sharma said the allegations levelled by Pracha were 'baseless'. "Let the search warranted be executed in accordance with the law," the court observed.

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ILNS: A Delhi court on Friday turned down the plea filed by Advocate Mehmood Pracha against the second raid conducted by the Special Cell of Delhi Police on his office, stating that collection of evidence is intrinsic to the investigation.

Disposing of the petition, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Dr. Pankaj Sharma said the allegations levelled by Pracha were ‘baseless’. “Let the search warranted be executed in accordance with the law,” the court observed.

The Patiala House Court also noted that the hands of the investigators cannot be tied to prevent them from collecting evidence.

“The collection of data from its source is done to ensure its admissibility during trial and it is imperative for the IO to collect the best form of evidence during investigation as per its own discretion. The decision of the IO cannot be interfered with by the Court nor the accused can dictate him as to how evidence is to be collected, if it is clear that the other data can be protected from being interfered with by the IO,” the order read.

The Court held that as per expert opinion, target data could be stored/copied/retrieved in a pen drive/memory device without any interference with other data, therefore, ruling out the possibility of evidentiary vulnerabilities.

“The expert opinion reflect that if the hard disc is submitted in FSL the “target data” can be retrieved without any alteration to the meta data associated with “target data”, without creating any evidential vulnerabilities as the data will be retrieved forensically. Also, it will not affect the data stored in hard disc relating to other clients of the applicant,” the order stated.

The reliance upon Section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act and the Bar Council Conduct Rules by Pracha was misplaced, the Court said.

Earlier this year, a raid at Pracha’s office was undertaken by the Delhi Police in connection with an FIR alleging that he had tutored a witness to initiate a false Delhi Riots case. In his application, Pracha prayed for directions to protect the privileged communication with his other clients on his laptop/hard disk in terms of Section 126 of Evidence Act.

Opposing the application, the Prosecution argued that Pracha’s application was not maintainable as it was not borne out of any provision of law. SPP Amit Prasad also contended that lawyers could not be differentiated in criminal investigations and thus protection under Section 126 could not be claimed.

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Pracha had moved the Court against the second raid conducted by the Special Cell of Delhi Police in his office on March 9, calling the whole exercise as “completely illegal and unjustified”. The advocate has been representing many accused persons in the Delhi Riots conspiracy cases that broke out in February last year.

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