Hemant Soren moves SC citing delay by HC on petition challenging ED arrest | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Hemant Soren moves SC citing delay by HC on petition challenging ED arrest

Apr 24, 2024 11:43 AM IST

Soren has also filed a bail plea before a trial court in Ranchi, which is expected to hear the matter next on May 1

Former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren on Wednesday requested the Supreme Court to urgently hear his plea, alleging delay by the state high court in deciding his petition that has challenged Soren’s arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on January 31 on money laundering charges.

The high court had reserved its verdict on February 28 on his plea but still no decision has been delivered. (PTI file photo)
The high court had reserved its verdict on February 28 on his plea but still no decision has been delivered. (PTI file photo)

Senior counsel Kapil Sibal mentioned the matter before a bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, pleading to hear Soren’s case immediately in view of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

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“We had moved this court under Article 32 (writ petition seeking enforcement of fundamental right), but we were told to approach the high court first. We went there. The case was heard finally on February 27 and 28 and the judgment was reserved. But it has not been delivered yet. We went back to the judge, but he said nothing. The man will be inside, and the elections will be over,” Sibal contended.

Also Read: ‘Misuse of power’: ED claims Hemant Soren ‘forcefully’ acquired land worth 31 crore in Ranchi

On being asked whether his client had filed a fresh petition, Sibal answered affirmative. “Yes, we have filed a petition, and we want it to be heard on Friday... if we say something more then it will be said that we are attacking the judiciary,” the senior counsel added.

Responding, justice Khanna said that he cannot assign a date of hearing since it is for the Chief Justice of India to do so.

“There is a procedure prescribed. You send an email which will be looked at by the Chief Justice of India. The chief justice will take a call,” the judge said.

At this, Sibal complained that if the Supreme Court were to give another four weeks to the high court for delivering the judgment, one of the chief purposes of the petition would be frustrated.

“This is very sad,” he added.

The polling in Jharkhand for the Lok Sabha seats will be held on May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader had earlier approached the top court on the evening of January 31, before he was arrested in connection with an alleged land scam. His arrest happened minutes after he resigned as chief minister of the state.

In this plea, he sought protection from arrest on the grounds that ED’s actions were illegal and vitiated by political considerations. After he was arrested later that day, Soren moved a fresh application in the petition mentioned above, requesting the Supreme Court to declare his arrest unconstitutional for being a brazen abuse of power by ED.

When the apex court heard his plea on February 2, it declined to consider Soren’s petition first and instead directed him to file a case with the Jharkhand high court. While noting that Soren has separately moved a petition before the high court as well, the court asked him to pursue his case in the state but refused to set down a deadline for a decision by the high court.

ED has claimed that it has evidence that the JMM leader is the key beneficiary in alleged land related irregularities in Ranchi, where a network of brokers and businessmen were allegedly working over the years to create fake deeds of landed parcels by forging records in the registrar offices and further selling them off.

A Kolkata based businessman, Amit Kumar Agarwal, arrested by ED on June 7 last year, is key to Soren’s arrest as he is suspected to be the handler of tainted funds of several politicians, including the former Jharkhand CM, as alleged in a petition filed in the Jharkhand high court in 2021 by a lawyer, Rajeev Kumar.

ED has already filed a charge sheet in the alleged land irregularities case on June 12, 2023, naming Amit Agarwal, arrested Indian Administrative Officer (IAS) Chhavi Ranjan and eight other individuals – Dilip Kumar Ghosh (a close aide of Agarwal), Pradip Bagchi, Afshar Ali (alleged kingpin who created fake deeds on landed properties), Mohammad Saddam Hussain, Imtiaz Ahmad, Talha Khan, Faiyaz Ahmed, Bhanu Pratap Prasad – and three companies allegedly linked to Agarwal – Jagatbandhu Tea Estates Pvt Ltd, Rajesh Auto Merchandise Pvt Ltd and Aurora Studio Pvt Ltd.

The alleged case pertains to usurping prime landed parcels, including a 4.55 acre defence land at Morabadi Mouza at Ranchi, and a land parcel of 7.6 acres at Hehal, Ranchi – both valued at over 74 crore at the current market price, besides several other land parcels – by the accused persons by making fake deeds using manufactured identities and falsifying original land records at Circle Offices and Registrar of Assurances (RoA), Kolkata and Circle Offices in Jharkhand, according to the ED charge sheet. Overall, ED has recovered documents related to at least 27 properties of which alleged fake deeds were created by the accused people.

Soren has also filed a bail plea before a trial court in Ranchi, which is expected to hear the matter next on May 1.

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