PIL on mining lease case aimed at destabilising my govt: J'khand CM Soren to HC - Hindustan Times
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PIL on mining lease case aimed at destabilising my govt: J'khand CM Soren to HC

May 07, 2022 04:44 AM IST

Soren’s response came after Shiv Shankar Sharma on February 16 sought CBI and ED probes into how Hemant Soren, who is in-charge of the mining department, obtained the lease for a piece of land on the outskirts of Ranchi

Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren has urged the high court to dismiss a petition seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) into a stone mining lease in his name, saying it was an attempt to “destabilise the democratically-elected state government”.

Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren. (PTI file photo)
Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren. (PTI file photo)

In an affidavit filed on Thursday, Soren also alleged that the petitioner held a “personal grudge” against him and that his (the petitioner’s) had allegedly tried to implicate Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) founder Shibu Soren in a murder case in 2006. Shibu Soren, who is the chief minister’s father, was eventually acquitted by the high court and Supreme Court in the matter.

The chief minister’s response came after Shiv Shankar Sharma on February 16 sought CBI and ED probes into how Hemant Soren, who is in-charge of the mining department, obtained the lease for a piece of land on the outskirts of Ranchi.

Besides seeking a probe by the two agencies, the petitioner also sought the chief minister’s disqualification from the legislative assembly under the Representation of People’s Act for holding an “office of profit”. The Election Commission of India is looking into that charge.

In his affidavit, filed through lawyer Kundan Kumar Mishra, Soren said the mining lease for a 0.88-acre parcel of land was originally granted to him on lease for 10 years on May 17, 2008. Independent lawmaker Madhu Koda served as Jharkhand chief minister from September 2006 to August 2008 with the support of JMM and Congress, among others.

The chief minister said he applied for renewal of the mining lease in 2018 but the application lapsed. He added that he reapplied “sometime in 2021” when the deputy commissioner in Ranchi invited fresh applications and he was subsequently granted the lease as per procedure.

However, Hemant Soren said, he did not seek a consent to operate the lease and on February 4 , applied to surrender the lease. His request was accepted by the department upon payment of the prescribed fee, he added.

The mining lease – the subject matter of the present writ – remained no longer in place on the date of filing of the writ petition, and should be dismissed, the chief minister said.

Soren also cited a parallel “office of profit” probe by the Election Commission of India (ECI), which has issued a notice and sought his response by May 10. ECI’s move came following a complaint by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“A mere comparison of the allegations contained in the petition submitted by the BJP and the allegations made in the present writ petition shows that both are similar and the handiwork of the same person. It is obvious that the controlling mind behind the petition to the honourable Governor and the present writ petition filed before this honourable court is the same,” the chief minister said in his affidavit.

“I say and submit that the petitioner is guilty of abuse of the process of law and the writ petition has been filed for extraneous considerations. I submit that the present writ petition be dismissed with exemplary costs,” he added.

The chief minister further cited a 2010 Supreme Court verdict in the Uttarakhand Vs Balwant Singh Chaufal case in which the top court observed that courts should prima facie verify the credentials of a petitioner to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL).

Observing that all is not well in the mines department, a division bench of chief justice Ravi Ranjan and justice Sujit Narayan Prasad on April 8 issued the notice to the state government through advocate general Rajeev Ranjan.

Sharma’s counsel Rajiv Kumar said the matter, which was slated to be heard by the court on Friday, was deferred.

ECI had earlier written to state chief secretary Sukhdev Singh seeking “authentication” of the documents related to granting of the mining lease to the chief minister. According to officials familiar with the matter, Singh submitted an entire set of documents related to the mining lease to the poll body.

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