The Gujarat High Court in the case observed and has issued the notices to the department’s erring officials wherein the court directed them to come up with their explanation with regards to the raid.
The court in the case was dealing with the rapping of the Income Tax Department for allegedly raiding an advocate’s premises and seizing certain digital and physical files or documents of the client without a warrant.
The bench comprising of Justice Bhargav D. Karia and Justice Niral Mehta in the case observed and has asked the Counsel of the IT Department to return the documents and make a public apology only then ‘will they be spared’.
The court in the case also wondered as to how the IT Department can take documents from a professional’s possession wherein concerning the other persons in the professional capacity and as to which provision provides this power to the IT Department.
The court observed that the IT Department raided the office of Lawyer’s and has seized digital, and physical files without a warrant.
However, the court in the case stressed that this kind of approach of the department to conduct search and raid will have a detrimental effect on the public as everyone will be ‘under fear’.
Further, the court remarked that this attitude would not allow anyone in the country to perform their duty fearlessly.
The court in the case remarked that no professional will be safe in this country if this is allowed to happen and this is not 1976-1977. Thus, this is not a state of emergency where anybody can do anything, what you like…Are they i.e., the IT Dept officials, police officers who will collect documents especially documents which an advocate holds in a professional capacity like documents of your client? Atrocious power exercised.
It has also been observed by the court that the department was not allowed to conduct such searches where such documents of an advocate are seized which he has kept in a professional capacity.
The counsel, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the petitioner claimed before the court that the search of the office of the advocate and house ended on November 3rd Morning and till November 6.
The court observed that the advocate was not allowed to go to the High Court and that this was not just detention but a breach of the right to privacy.
The court while considering the facts and circumstances of the case observed and has directed all the concerned IT Dept officials to file their replies in an individual capacity. Further, the court remarked that, let them also spend money on the lawyers. Thus, let us see which lawyer appears for them.