Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren might have been a free man today had he not lied before the Delhi court which recently found him and four others guilty of the 1994 abduction and murder of his private secretary Shashi Nath Jha.
Additional Sessions Judge BR Kedia, in his 191-page judgment, held the false statements made by Soren and the other four as a key link to complete the chain of circumstances connecting them to the crime.
The judge used a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year — in the Trimukh Maroti Kirkan vs State of Maharashtra case. The Supreme Court had ruled that "when an incriminating circumstance is put to the accused and the said accused either offers no explanation or offers an explanation which is bound to be untrue, then the same becomes an additional link in the chain of circumstances to make it complete”.
In the Jha case, when questions were put to Soren and the others convicted, during the recording of their statements, the answers were almost always either “It is incorrect” or “I do not know”.
Soren had even denied being a JMM leader. The court asked him: "It is in further evidence against you that prosecution witness Vijay Mahto deposed that he knows (one of the other four) accused Nand Kishore Mehta, a resident of his village and a member of the JMM political party, and that you are the leader of the said JMM party. What do you have to say?” Soren replied: “It is incorrect.”
He also termed as "incorrect" the evidence that Nand Kishore was a member of JMM. Nand Kishore had in fact contested the 1995 assembly elections from Hatia constituency on a JMM ticket. Soren even denied Jha had been his secretary. The court concluded that Soren’s responses “appear to be untrue”.