SC seeks ED's reply by May 17 on Hemant Soren's plea against arrest in money laundering case

Soren was arrested on January 31 in the case after he resigned as Jharkhand chief minister, and party loyalist and state transport minister Champai Soren was named as his successor.
shish Tripathi
Last Updated : 13 May 2024, 07:22 IST
Last Updated : 13 May 2024, 07:22 IST

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Enforcement Directorate to respond to a plea by ex Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren against his arrest in a land scam case.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta issued notice and fixed the matter on May 17 after a lot of persuasion by senior advocate Kapil Sibal for Soren.

The court initially wanted to fix the matter for consideration during the summer vacations or in July.

"Why should I be prejudiced," Sibal asked seeking early date of hearing. He also cited the list of dates since the top court asked Soren to approach the High Court against his arrest and delay caused in the matter, affecting his rights during the ongoing polls.

"We do it in all cases (asking writ petitioner to move the HC)," the bench said and then fixed it on May 20.

The bench said it is shortest date possible. It is also the last working day before the summer vacations, it said.

Sibal insisted for taking it up on May 17 as advance copy of the petition has been served upon the Enforcement Directorate's counsel on May 6.

He said it would be "great injustice", if the matter cannot be taken up on May 17, then the court may better dismiss it as by then, the Lok Sabha elections in the state would be over.

"This is not the way," the bench told Sibal, who maintained Soren's case is covered by Arvind Kejriwal's order of Friday, releasing him on interim bail for campaign during the polls.

At the outset, the bench asked Sibal if Soren was in possession of land.

To this, Sibal said, "I have never been in possession since 2009. But those in possession said it belonged to Mantriji."

Soren was arrested by the ED on January 31.

On May 3, the Jharkhand High Court dismissed Soren's plea challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate, days after the Supreme Court agreed to hear his plea against ED arrest in the week commencing from May 6.

The judgement was reserved by the High Court on February 28.

The High Court, in its order, had said Soren can't wriggle out the mess he created for himself by raising a bogey of political vendetta.

Earlier, Soren had moved the top court, citing the High Court's delay in pronouncing the verdict on his petition challenging his arrest by the ED and on April 29 it issued notice on the plea challenging his arrest.

Soren was being investigated for money laundering charges in connection with an illegal mining case, as well as an alleged land scam in Ranchi.

The Enforcement Directorate, investigating both cases, claimed that approximately Rs 8.5 acres of property in question constituted proceeds of crime.

Published 13 May 2024, 07:22 IST

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