Women lawyers seek Bar panel’s intervention in Paracha raid issue

The letter further said that though the proceedings initiated against such lawyers are ostensibly independent of the matters being handled by them, but the pattern emerging from all such instances, where lawyers are being targeted, is hard to ignore

NEW DELHI – Days after the Special Cell of Delhi Police raided the office of advocate Mehmood Pracha, one of the defence counsels in the northeast Delhi riots case, the Delhi High Court Women Lawyers Forum has written to the President of the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA).

In its letter written to DHCBA President Mohit Mathur, the women lawyers expressed deep concerns over the investigating agency arraigning lawyers as accused in criminal cases.

“We write to you as a group of lawyers who are deeply concerned about the recent instances where the investigating agency has been arraigning lawyers as accused in criminal cases,” the letter read.

The letter further said that though the proceedings initiated against such lawyers are ostensibly independent of the matters being handled by them, but the pattern emerging from all such instances, where lawyers are being targeted, is hard to ignore.

“Raids in the office of Mr Mahmood Pracha, advocate is the latest example of such intimidation by the Delhi Police. Mr Pracha is representing several accused persons in the recent riot cases in Delhi. The recent trend indicates that there are other lawyers too who are being intimidated and discouraged from representing their clients in these cases,” the letter said.

The letter also said that this is also a larger issue that goes beyond the riots case, wherein lawyers who are vocal about defending civil liberties are being systematically targeted. “This is clearly an act of vindictiveness on part of the investigating agencies whose actions are preventing lawyers from carrying their out professional duties,” it said.

“We strongly condemn the motivated and vindictive acts on part of the investigating agency in question. We urge you to take a strong stand against this trend and raise this issue before appropriate forums in order to protect members of the Bar from unscrupulous actions of the investigating agency,” the letter signed by around 30 lawyers concluded.

The statement has been signed by advocates Anuradha Dutt, Malavika Rajakotia, Ritu Bhalla, Warisha Farasat, Naomi Chandra, Pooja Saigal, Jhum Jhum Sarkar, Anubha Rastogi, Anjali Sharma, Saumya Tandon, Nandita Rao, Iram Majid, Ragini Vinaik, Suruchi Suri, Kirti Singh, Shweta Kapoor, Gayatri Virmani, Sumita Kapil, Miriam Fozia Rahman, Manali Singhal, Nidhi Mohan Parashar, Swaty Singh Malik, Ruchi Singh, Mani Gupta, Tanima Kishore, Tarannum Cheema, Mahjabeen, Anupam Sanghi, Aakanksha Nehra and Shahrukh Alam.

A Delhi Police team on Thursday searched the office of Pracha, who is handling several cases related to the February 2020 northeast Delhi violence where at least 53 people died. The raids at Pracha’s office in Delhi’s Nizamuddin East began continued for more than three hours.

According to the Delhi Police, during the course of a bail matter pertaining to an accused of the Delhi riots, use of a forged notary stamp and creation of allegedly false and manipulated evidence at the hands of certain members of the Bar was noticed. The Special Court had observed that the same required thorough investigation. Pursuant to this, a criminal case under appropriate sections of law was registered and investigation taken up.

“During the course of investigation, search warrants to look for electronic and other evidence from the premises of two members of the Bar were obtained from the court and the same are being executed in a professional manner at one location in Nizamuddin and another at Yamuna Vihar,” a senior Delhi Police officer said.

“They came to our office with laptops, printers and gadgets and hacked our office computers. We will file an FIR regarding this,” Pracha said.

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