Senior advocate Mehmood Pracha, whose office was raided by the Delhi police on December 25 in connection with the Delhi riots case, has alleged that documents that showed corruption in Union government and central agencies could be the reason why he was targeted.
Pracha took up pro-bono cases of at least 100 people arrested in the Delhi riots cases. The Delhi police alleged that he (Pracha) instigated a man, Irshad Ali, to depose “falsely”. While Pracha denied the allegations, he said there were “other reasons” why the government zeroed in on him.
Pracha represents Ramon Magsaysay award-winning Indian Forest Services officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who’s fighting corruption against the BJP-led government. “There were documents pertaining to PILs, RTIs filed against this government, including on the Prime Minister’s Office. I suspect they were out to get them,” Pracha told The Federal.
“Chaturvedi is on this government’s target list. And since I represent him I am eventually targeted,” Pracha said.
While Pracha said the police did not take possession of the physical documents, they took control of the computers and e-data. “They came with hacking devices and spent 15 hours in my office. If it was about the Delhi riots case, what was the need for 200 police officials to surround my office? There has to be some proportionality to the allegation they make and act,” he said.
Back in January 2020, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on a Special Leave Petition (SLP) moved by Chaturvedi, who had sought information about corruption charges against Union ministers between June 2014 and August 2017, and also the quantum of black money brought back into the system.
In yet another case, the Uttrakhand High Court last month issued notices to the Centre and the state of Uttarakhand pertaining to empanelment of joint secretaries in the Central government where Chairman of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Justice L Narasimha Reddy was accused of passing adverse orders.
Pracha had also represented Chaturvedi when the CBI denied him the information despite court orders, in exposing major corruption in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). In this case, reports indicate that RTI documents revealed Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a telephonic call to the then health minister Harsh Vardhan to discuss Chaturvedi’s removal from the post of chief vigilance officer (CVO) at AIIMS. While the government removed him from the post, it took no action against those who were indicted by him in his investigation.
“The raids are an attack on the judicial system. I fight cases for the terror accused and those fighting corruption, which this government does not like. So they are attacking me and acting like mafia (gangs),” Pracha said.