The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a petition filed by Chief Minister Hemant Soren against the summons issued to him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with an alleged illegal mining case, asking the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader to approach the jurisdictional high court first.
“Why don’t you go to the high court? We can’t entertain it here directly. You go to the high court,” a bench justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi told Soren’s lawyer, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi.
While Rohatgi said that ED proceedings against his client was a “witch-hunt” and that he could adduced the evidence to prove it, the bench said that the summons had to be challenged before the Jharkhand high court at the first instance. The matter was therefore dismissed as withdrawn.
The Chief Minister had been told to appear for questioning on September 23 over allegations of money laundering related to sale of land in Ranchi. He had filed a plea in the Supreme Court challenging this summons and then alleged the calls were continuing despite the pending case.
Soren had moved the apex court challenging the summons sent to him to depose at the federal agency's office in Ranchi on August 14 and record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The 48-year-old Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader was interrogated for over nine hours by the ED on November 17 last year in connection with another money-laundering case linked to alleged illegal mining in the state.
The central probe agency is investigating more than a dozen land deals, including one related to defence land, wherein a group of mafia, middlemen and bureaucrats allegedly connived to forge deeds and documents of as long back as 1932.
The ED has arrested several people so far in the state, including Soren's political aide Pankaj Mishra.
Notably, the ED has issued four summons to Soren asking him to appear for questioning in a land scam case in Ranchi. The next date for his questioning has been fixed for September 23.
Soren has skipped three summons issued by the ED, so far in the land scam.
He had skipped the first summons for questioning in connection with an ongoing money laundering case related to fraudulent sale of land parcels in the state capital on August 14.
In a letter to the ED, he had sought its withdrawal questioning its legality.
The chief minister had also reportedly questioned the choice of date, August 14, for scheduling the questioning despite the common knowledge about the involvement of the office of the chief minister in Independence Day celebrations a day later.
Again, he skipped the second summons, saying he has challenged it in the Supreme Court and so, the ED should wait till the apex court’s order.
However, the ED issued the third summons and asked him to appear for questioning on September 9. The chief minister, however, decided to attend the G20 dinner hosted by President Droupadi Murmu and skipped it again. Now, all eyes are on the ED’s next move.
Court rejects Vishnu Agarwal's bail plea
The ED court has given its verdict on the bail plea of Nucleus Mall owner Vishnu Aggarwal, who is in jail in the case of purchasing 1 acre land located on Cheshire Home Road, Bariatu Road. The court rejected the bail application of Vishnu Aggarwal. The hearing of both the parties was completed in the ED court last Wednesday, after which the court had reserved the decision. Vishnu Aggarwal has appealed to the court for bail citing his poor health. On July 31, 2023, at around 10:00 pm, Vishnu Aggarwal was arrested by the ED after interrogating him. Actually, Vishnu Aggarwal is accused of wrongly purchasing 1 acre of land on Cheshire Home Road. ED had found in its investigation that the original document of this land had been tampered. The name of the ryot was changed by tampering with the original document kept in the Kolkata registry office. After which Vishnu Aggarwal had purchased this land. Gangadhar Rai was made the sole owner of this land by forgery and tampering with the original document. Later this land was bought and sold from Rajesh Rai, grandson of Gangadhar Rai.