CM Soren moves Jharkhand HC to restrain guv from taking action on ‘ECI opinion’
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on August 25 sent its opinion to Jharkhand governor Ramesh Bais in connection with the office-of profit complaint against chief minister Hemant Soren
Chief minister Hemant Soren on Monday approached the Jharkhand high court seeking direction to restrain governor Ramesh Bais from taking any action in furtherance to the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) opinion in connection with his mining lease issue, people aware of the development said.
ECI on August 25 sent its opinion to governor Ramesh Bais after conducting a detailed hearing on a reference from the governor regarding a complaint by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) charging Hemant Soren of holding an office-of-profit by the virtue of allotting a stone chips mining lease to himself, hence seeking his disqualification from the assembly for violating the Representation of People’s Act, 1951.
The writ petition, filed by Soren’s counsel Pisyuh Chitresh, questioned the ‘second opinion’ reportedly sought by the governor from the ECI in connection with his mining lease. Both the governor and ECI have been made respondents in the matter.
“We have a two-fold prayer in the petition. Firstly, to restrain the governor from taking any action in furtherance to the ECI opinion sent to the Raj Bhawan in reference to the chief minister’s mining lease. Secondly, we have seen media reports saying the governor has sought a second opinion from ECI over the issue which is unconstitutional. There have also been conflicting media reports that ECI has denied having received any such request for a second opinion from the governor. This is creating a state of confusion, which goes against the mandate of a duly elected government. We have prayed that, if at all, ECI gives a second opinion, it should first give the petitioner an opportunity to be heard prior to giving the opinion,” said Chitresh.
The governor has not made public the ECI opinion on the matter, which reportedly recommended disqualification of Soren, despite repeated requests by the ruling dispensation in the state.
Soon after ECI sent its opinion, Bais officially told a ruling alliance delegation that he was taking a legal opinion over the issue before he comes up with his final order.
In an interview to a private news channel in his home town Raipur just after Diwali last month, Bais said that he was taking a ‘second opinion’ over the issue. Bais also went on to add that it was Diwali season and an ‘atomic explosion’ can’t be ruled out in the state. Raj Bhawan, however, has remained tight-lipped over the issue ever since.
Hemant Soren earlier also approached ECI, seeking a copy of the opinion it had sent to the Raj Bhawan. However, the election body refused to provide the copy on technical grounds. Soren’s party, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) also field a Right to Information (RTI) application with the Raj Bhawan, seeking a copy of the opinion. However, the governor’s house also has not provided the copy of the ECI opinion.