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Jharkhand: Soren gets SC relief in laundering case

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NEW DELHI:  In a big relief to Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, the Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed further proceedings pending before the Jharkhand High Court in the PILs seeking ED probe against the CM for alleged money laundering through several shell companies.

A bench of justices UU Lalit, Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia also reserved orders on the petition(s) moved by the State and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader challenging the high court’s order dated June 3 of admitting the PILs preferred by Shiv Shankar Sharma wherein it was also alleged that Soren had given a mining lease to himself. 

“Heard counsels for the parties. Order reserved. Since the court is seized of the matter, the high court shall not proceed with the matter,” the bench said in its order.  The court also asked the parties to place on record copies of the petition along with the annexure and pleadings exchanged

While referring to the top court’s order dated May 23, wherein the high court was directed to consider the maintainability of the PILs, senior advocate Kapil Sibal for the state submitted that the high court not only decided maintainability but also considered the merits of the case. Terming the issue as “well planned”, Sibal also questioned the ED’s conduct of filing documents in a sealed cover in the absence of incriminating evidence against JMM leader. 

For Soren, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the PIL levelling allegations of the CM granting mining lease to himself was only filed due to the enmity between the families for two decades.. Additional Solicitor General SV Raju for the ED contended that a petition raising allegations of corruption cannot be throw on technical grounds. 

While admitting the PILs seeking probe against Soren, the division bench of Justice R Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad had observed, “This court after having answered the issue, as framed by the court and on the basis of discussions made hereinabove, is summing up its view and is on the considered opinion that the writ petitions cannot be thrown away on the ground of maintainability.”

On May 23, the vacation bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Bela M Trivedi in the petitions preferred by the state and Soren against high court’s decision of accepting the documents produced by the ED in the sealed cover overruling the state’s objections had asked the high court to decide on the maintainability of the PILs. 

BJP national vice president and former Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das had in February this year claimed Soren abused his position and granted himself the favour of a mining lease, an issue involving both the conflict of interest and corruption. He also alleged violations of provisions of the Representation of People Act.

Taking cognisance of the controversy, the Election Commission of India (ECI) sent a notice to Soren in May seeking his version on the mining lease issued in his favour when he holds the Mining and Environment portfolios. 

The plea before the High Court had sought a probe into alleged irregularities in the grant of mining lease as also the transactions of some shell companies allegedly linked to Soren’s family and aides.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)

39 Days ago