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Supreme Court Directs Jharkhand High Court To Decide First Maintainability Issue Of PILs Seeking CBI/ED Probe Against CM Hemant Soren

Shruti Kakkar
24 May 2022 6:26 AM GMT
Supreme Court Directs Jharkhand High Court To Decide First Maintainability Issue Of PILs Seeking CBI/ED Probe Against CM Hemant Soren

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Jharkhand High Court to decide first the maintainability of three PILs seeking CBI/ED investigation against Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren in relation to grant of mining lease, allegations of MNREGA scam and transfer of money into shell companies

A vacation bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Bela M Trivedi passed the order passed by the State of Jharkhand challenging the decision of the High Court to accept the documents produced by the Enforcement Directorate in sealed cover overruling the State's objections.

"We direct that the issue as to maintainability should be dealt by the HC on the next date of listing. Based on the outcome of the objections to the maintainability of the proceedings, the HC may thereafter proceed in acc with law", the bench directed. It noted that by the order dated May 13, the High Court itself had decided to hear the preliminary objections to the maintainability of the petition.

The bench clarified that it has not dealt with the merits of the allegations.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the State, submitted that the PIL petitioner is politically motivated and had suppressed that he had filed similar cases before. He submitted that the petitioner has not made the disclosures as mandated by the High Court Rules. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi ,appearing for the Chief Minister, submitted that the CM has filed an affidavit questioning the maintainability of the PIL on the ground that the petitioner is motivated by political rivalry.

Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, submitted that the agency, while investigating the MNREGA scam, have found serious materials showing money trail leading up to political higher-ups.

There were three PILs before the High Court. On sought direction to the ED to investigate 15 FIR's pertaining to alleged offences arising out of the disbursement of MNREGA funds. Another sought direction for the investigation into the alleged transfer of money by Soren Farms into certain companies. The third one sought a direction for the sanctioning of prosecution of the CM, for obtaining mining leases in his own name implicating offenses under the provisions of PC Act, 1988 & IPC. The High Court tagged the three PILs together.

The Jharkhand Government had filed the special leave petition against the order passed by a High Court division bench comprising Chief Justice Dr Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad.

Through the impugned order, the division bench rejected the State's objection to the acceptance of the documents in sealed cover and decided to take them on record. The bench also directed the State to produce the details of 16 FIRs relating to MGNREGA scam. The bench also noted that the Mining Secretary of the State has been arrested and is under suspension.

Case Title : State of Jharkhand versus Shiv Shankar Sharma SLP(c) 9279/2022.

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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