ED likely to move SC against Jharkhand HC's bail to ex-CM Hemant Soren

The high court had said there was 'reason to believe' that Soren was not guilty of the offence as alleged by the ED.
Last Updated : 03 July 2024, 16:52 IST

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New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is expected to approach the Supreme Court soon with a special leave petition (SLP) against a recent Jharkhand High Court order that granted bail to former chief minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren in a money-laundering case, official sources said on Wednesday.

The ED is likely to challenge the June 28 order passed by a bench of Justice Rongon Mukhopadhyay, stating that the court's belief that Soren is "not guilty" is "erroneous" and the accused does not satisfy the twin conditions stipulated by section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The high court had said there was "reason to believe" that Soren was not guilty of the offence as alleged by the ED and there was no likelihood of the petitioner committing a similar offence.

Section 45 of the PMLA stipulates that bail can be given to a money-laundering accused if two conditions are met -- if the court is prima facie satisfied that the accused did not commit the offence and that he is unlikely to commit any offence while on bail.

The federal agency is expected to move the apex court with these grounds mentioned in its SLP.

The ED's legal team had, the day the high court granted the relief to Soren, requested the court for a stay on the implementation of the bail order for 48 hours, so that it could move the Supreme Court. However, the high court had rejected the plea.

On Wednesday, Soren staked a claim to form the government as the next chief minister of Jharkhand and his party colleague, Champai Soren, resigned from the top post.

Soren (48), the executive president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), was arrested by the ED on January 31 from the Jharkhand Raj Bhavan in Ranchi, just after he resigned as the chief minister.

The money-laundering case against Soren pertains to his "illegally" acquiring an 8.86-acre land in Ranchi with the help of state government officials and others.

A chargesheet was filed by the ED against Soren and some others on March 30 before a special PMLA court in Ranchi.

The ED has also attached the Ranchi land and requested the court for its confiscation.

The money-laundering investigation stems from multiple FIRs lodged by the Jharkhand Police in land "scam" cases against several people, including state government officials.

The prime accused in the case is former revenue department sub-inspector Bhanu Pratap Prasad, also a custodian of government records, who is alleged to have "misused" his official position by providing assistance to several people, including Soren, in their activities linked to illegal occupation, acquisition and possession of proceeds of crime in the form of landed properties, the ED had said in a statement.

"A racket of land mafia is active in Jharkhand, which used to forge land records in Ranchi," the agency has claimed.

Published 03 July 2024, 16:52 IST

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