New Delhi: On Saturday (August 22), a court ordered the Delhi Police’s special cell or unit branch to probe allegations against Mahmood Pracha, an advocate who has been fighting cases on behalf of many accused in the Delhi riots. The riots, which occurred in late February this year in North-East Delhi, left 53 people dead and hundreds injured.
The Delhi Police has claimed in a report alleging that Pracha “tutored” victims to give false statements in riot-related cases. The report cited a victim’s statement, in which he said he was asked by Pracha to make a false deposition.
Additional sessions judge Vinod Yadav ordered the police commissioner to issue directions to the special cell or crime branch to probe the allegations against the lawyer.
According to the police report, Ali, a victim of the riots, told the police that he was asked to identify an eyewitness named Sharif, who he allegedly didn’t know at all. Sharif was a witness in another case.
Ali also alleged that Pracha had told him that Sharif’s statement in his case would make Ali’s case stronger – but for this, Ali would have to depose that Sharif had seen his shop burning.
Ali also told police that he had falsely named three persons – Navneet, Deepak and Mintu – on Pracha’s instruction. The police report added that Ali’s affidavit, with the ‘false’ deposition, had been signed by an advocate who reportedly died three years ago.
Denying both allegations, Pracha said, “The allegations against me are that a client came to me, and after a few days left because he was disappointed that I wouldn’t do any ‘setting’ for him with the judge or the police – that I only fight the case legally. Some other judge had told him to withdraw from me, and since we are doing all this work for no money, I couldn’t have asked him to stay. The goal is justice.”
Describing the second allegation, he said, “In the bail application, he [Ali] had made some claims through affidavits which are not matching his current story. The affidavit was passed on through some other advocate and not me. There is a contradiction in two of his stories. Now the second allegation is that the affidavit was signed by some advocate who is dead. Now tell me, if you go to the court and pay Rs 20 for the affidavit, would you look at who is stamping and attesting it? The affidavit was made by him, I wasn’t involved in the process.”
“Many of my clients have filed complaints against DCP Surya [DCP Northeast Ved Prakash Surya] and other police officers, alleging that they were involved in the rioting. Now they are all already accused – hence, from the police to Amit Shah, all of them have the same grudge against me. Their narrative, that Muslims orchestrated the riots, is being challenged by me, that too legally, through the court. Some RSS members were also sentenced in my cases.”
The lawyer, who is representing many accused persons as well as riot victims in court, accused the police of framing him. He said, “They are trying to neutralise me. My friends are now scared for my life, they tell me I will get murdered. They ask me to leave these cases. I will either be murdered, or implicated in a very big, false case. But that threat will not stop me from pursuing the course of justice as per the constitution.”
When asked about Pracha’s allegations that the police is framing him, Eish Singhal, Delhi Police PRO, responded by saying, “The matter is already in court. Let’s see what the court and the ongoing investigation finds out.”