Hearing on Soren’s bail plea to continue at SC today

| | Ranchi
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Hearing on Soren’s bail plea to continue at SC today

Wednesday, 22 May 2024 | PNS | Ranchi

he Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned by a day the hearing of former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren's plea challenging a high court order refusing him bail. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief was arrested in January on charges of money laundering.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta said it will hear the plea on May 22 after hearing the case for an hour.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Soren cited the case of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and asked the court to release the JMM leader him to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections.

The adjournment was sought by Soren's lawyer senior advocate Kapil Sibal after the court questioned him on how he could have challenged the constitutional validity of his arrest while the special court had already taken cognisance of the offence.

The court also asked if the arrest could be challenged after the special court rejected Soren's bail plea.

Sibal argued that the case was about 8.86 acre of tribal land which couldn’t be transferred. Soren is accused of forcibly occupying the land in 2009-10 but the action against him was taken in 2023. The issue was a civil dispute over a piece of land and Soren did not have anything to do with the case, Sibal said. The ED concluded Soren's involvement merely by relying on some statements, he said.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had opposed Soren’s bail plea on May 20. In its affidavit, the ED argued that evidence establishes Soren's involvement in the illegal acquisition and possession of properties.

Contending that a politician can claim no special status higher than that of an ordinary citizen, the ED told the apex court that if Soren is granted interim bail for poll campaigning, then all incarcerated politicians would seek a similar treatment claiming that they are a "class of their own".

Emphasising that elections are all-year-round phenomena in the country, the probe agency said no politician can be arrested and kept in judicial custody if Soren's prayer for grant of "special treatment" is acceded to.

In a counter-affidavit filed in Soren's plea against his arrest and seeking interim bail for electioneering, the ED said, "Therefore, there is an active attempt on the part of the petitioner (Soren) to subvert the investigation by misusing state machinery and to project the proceeds of crime as untainted through his stooges." It added the materials on record establish that the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader is involved in the acquisition/possession of properties, which are proceeds of crime, illegally.

"Under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) alone, presently, there are many politicians who are in judicial custody and their cases are examined by competent courts upholding their custody,” the ED counsel had pleaded.

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