By LE Desk

New Delhi, March 27: A Delhi court dismissed an application by advocate Mehmood Pracha in connection with the Delhi Police raids at this office, stating that he cannot “dictate the IO (investigation officer) about the mode and manner for collection of evidence in an investigation”.

Calling it baseless, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Dr Pankaj Sharma dismissed the application and ordered the execution of search warrants. Pracha has now appealed against the order before a sessions court, which has listed the matter for Saturday, The Indian Express reported.

“The plea of the applicant about his offer of ‘target data’ in pen drive can only be considered by the IO subject to the issue of admissibility, and the court’s intervention is not proper. Also, the accused cannot dictate IO about the mode and manner for collection of evidence in an investigation. Accordingly, in the considered view of this court, the objections raised by the applicant are baseless. Let the search warrant be executed in accordance with law, subject to the safeguards, as per expert opinion,” CMM Sharma stated in his order.

On Pracha relying on Section 126 of The Indian Evidence Act, which deals with private communication between a client and his lawyer, and Bar Council conduct rules, the court said reliance on them is “misplaced as same envisages voluntary sharing of data/communication by the advocate or deposing against the client. However, the same is different in this matter as data is to be collected by police on account of investigation in a criminal case. The plea for non-sharing of data of other clients of the applicant is beyond the scope of section 126 of Indian Evidence Act.”

The court said that “through forensic tools, it is possible to safely segregate ‘target data’ from other data without any interference/alteration while keeping its authenticity and integrity, and at the same time ensuring the admissibility of target data without evidential vulnerabilities.”

It also observed that the “collection of evidence is intrinsic to the investigation and hands of the investigators cannot be tied to prevent them from collecting evidence. Collection of data from its source is done to ensure its admissibility during trial and it is imperative for the IO to collect best form of evidence during investigation as per its own discretion.”

Furthermore, the court said if “IO feels the target data is to be retrieved from its source which is hard drive of the computer of applicant for investigation, the said decision of IO cannot be interfered with by the court, nor can accused dictate him as how evidence is to be collected, if it is clear that other data can be protected from being interfered with by the IO.”

Earlier this year, a raid had been conducted at Pracha’s office by police over an FIR, wherein it is alleged he had tutored a witness to initiate a false case in connection with the Delhi riots.

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