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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

Soren acquitted in Jha murder case

Delhi HC says CBI has failed to prove the charges against the former central minister.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2007 04:40 IST
Harish V Nair, Brajesh Verma and Chhandosree
Harish V Nair, Brajesh Verma and Chhandosree
Hindustan Times

The first call came at 2.45 pm. The caller spoke for a while. And when Guruji put down the phone, he was beaming. The Delhi High Court had found him innocent of charges of murdering his private secretary 13 years ago.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren received the call in Dumka Central Jail, where he has been lodged since being shifted from Tihar Jail in January. His next caller was Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda.

Will he be minister again?

The reason why Soren resigned stands negated, so he can return to the Union cabinet. The UPA would be keen on his return as the preeminent tribal leader

But this may not happen immediately because both the Congress and UPA are now preoccupied with the nuclear deal imbroglio

Soren resigned as Union coal minister in November, 2006, after a Delhi trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment for abducting and murdering Shashi Nath Jha.

A Delhi High Court bench of Justices RS Sodhi and HR Malhotra set him free on Wednesday, saying the CBI “miserably failed” to prove the charges against the accused persons — Soren and four others.

The CBI had said that Jha was abducted from Dhaula Kuan and was taken to Ranchi where he was killed and buried. The high court asked how the trial judge could convict Soren and others when DNA tests did not prove that the skeleton exhumed was Jha’s.

Jha’s family said they would challenge the acquittal in the Supreme Court while the CBI said it would take a decision “after analysing the judgment”.

Soren is in Dumka jail in connection with another case. Celebrations broke out outside the jail as JMM workers burst crackers. Chief minister Koda offered to make way for Soren if he wanted. He said: “I would gladly vacate the chair if the UPA high command asks me to. No doubt Soren is a messiah for the state.”

In Delhi, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.R. Dasmunsi said: “This is a good news. We will now win the Lok Sabha bye-election in Jharkhand.” So will Soren return to the Union cabinet? A Congress source said, “The PM kept the coal ministry with himself after Soren had to resign following his conviction last year. In a way it’s been kept warm for him.”

First Published: Aug 22, 2007 15:23 IST