New Delhi: Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren failed to get any relief from the Supreme Court in a money laundering case as the apex court on Monday asked him to move to the concerned High Court with his plea against the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons in a money laundering case. A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi refused to entertain the plea filed by Soren. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Jharkhand Chief Minister sought to withdraw the plea.
Soren had filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the summons issued against him and said that the case against him was a clear case of abuse of law by the Central Government and misuse of the Central agencies to destabilize the democratically elected Government of the State of Jharkhand of which he is the Chief Minister.
ED had asked Soren to join its investigation in the alleged money laundering case on August 24, but the Jharkhand Chief Minister did not appear before the central agency on that day.
In his plea, Soren has urged the top court to declare Section 50 and Section 63 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 as ultra vires to the Constitution of India and to issue appropriate direction to declare the summons against him as illegal and null and void. He also sought to quash summons against him and all steps taken and proceedings emanating therefrom.
“As sentinel on the que vive, this Court has the Constitutional mandate to quash any act of the Union Government which is vitiated by malice and designed to interfere with the franchise exercised by the people of Jharkhand. With the General Election approaching in the next seven to eight months, the political atmosphere in the country has been vitiated by the ruling regime and all efforts have been made to threaten, humiliate and intimidate the political leaders, particularly, when the opposition has united to form INDIA alliance in which Petitioner and his party are a vocal participant and integral part of the alliance and who are not aligned with the NDA,” the petition read.
Soren submitted that the issuance of summons is actuated by malice in fact as a false allegation has been hoisted against the petitioner with the sole motive of creating political uncertainty and unrest in the State. The respondent ED earlier also sought to link the petitioner with the alleged illegal mining of stone chips in Jharkhand and accordingly summons were issued, he further added.
He also told the court that he has duly provided details of all movable and immovable properties owned by him and his family along with certified copies of the title deed thereof.
Soren was earlier summoned by the ED in mid-August in connection with an alleged land scam case. However, Soren did not join the central agency probe stating that he was busy with the preparation for the Independence Day celebration in the state. He was again asked to appear on August 24 and September 9 but he did not appear before the probe agency.
Jharkhand CM Will Have To Face ED, Says BJP
With the “kind of corruption” he has committed in his state, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren will not get any relief from any court and he will have to eventually face an Enforcement Directorate probe, the BJP said on Monday.
“Hemant Soren is running from an ED probe…He didn’t get any relief from the Supreme Court. I am confident that the kind of corruption he has committed, he won’t get any relief from any court. He will have to face the probe. His deeds will come out before people,” BJP spokesperson Syed Zafar Islam told a press conference at the party headquarters here.
The BJP spokesperson alleged that the Jharkhand chief minister has committed scams worth Rs 10,000-20,000 crore by misusing his power and position in the state. He rejected the charge that the BJP-led Centre has put the central probe agency after Soren to weaken the opposition parties’ INDIA alliance.
“The ED is doing its work following the lead (of the alleged scams involving Soren),” Islam said, alleging Soren’s involvement in a series of scams including in the allocation of coal blocks, illegal mining, misuse of rural development funds.
The BJP spokesperson alleged Soren has “illegally procured” land across Jharkhand in fake names.
“Hemant Soren, who is a member of the INDI Alliance is looting Jharkhand in connivance with the leader of the ‘ghamandia gathbandhan’ (INDIA bloc of opposition parties) which promotes corruption, parivarvad and appeasement politics. Each of the INDI Alliance constituents get their share in Soren’s,” he alleged.
Money Laundering Probe Against Hemant Soren
The 48-year-old Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader was interrogated for over nine hours by the ED on November 17 last year in connection with another money-laundering case linked to alleged illegal mining in the state.
The central probe agency is investigating more than a dozen land deals, including one related to defence land, wherein a group of mafia, middlemen and bureaucrats allegedly connived to forge deeds and documents of as long back as 1932. The ED has arrested several people so far in the state, including Soren’s political aide Pankaj Mishra.
Soren was initially summoned by the ED on November 3, 2022, but he did not appear citing official engagements. He had even dared the central probe agency to arrest him and then sought a three-week deferment of the summons.