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Supreme Court Seeks Production Of PIL Filed Before HC Seeking Probe Against Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren

Rintu Mariam Biju
12 Aug 2022 1:08 PM GMT
Supreme Court Seeks Production Of PIL Filed Before HC Seeking Probe Against Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren

The Supreme Court on Friday asked Jharkhand Chief Minister, Hemant Soren, to submit a copy of the writ petition filed before the High Court which sought an independent probe against him for alleged money laundering through shell companies.

The direction was passed by a Division Bench of Justices UU Lalit and S Ravindra Bhat while hearing the petitions moved by the State of Jharkhnad and Soren challenging the High Court's order accepting the maintainability of the said plea.

"The counsel for petitioner shall place on record the copy of the writ petition along with its annexures and all the pleadings exchanged by the parties. Mr. Tushar Mehta, Ld. SG for ED, UOI will place on record whatever documents they wish to rely on. List on Wednesday", the court's order read.

During the hearing, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the State government told the Court that even though the PILs were not genuine and were politically motivated, the High Court proceeded to pass orders.

Despite there being no predicate offence, the Enforcement Directorate handed over the materials in sealed cover as if it was already prepared. Even though an objection was raised regarding the same, the High Court went through the documents, Sibal told the Supreme Court.

"Then they started hearing it day to day, including Saturdays. We weren't given time to respond", Sibal said.

This prompted Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta to intervene, "That is not a remark in good taste. I need to intervene…."

As the hearing took shape, the Bench asked if the original petitioner(who filed the PIL) had filed a First Information Report regarding the matter.

"All these submissions were made for the first time in the original writ petition or.... ?", the Bench asked.

"Milords, please see page 242. There's a representation marked to the PMO", the counsel for original writ petitioner replied.

Bench: What is the date?

Counsel: Date is not mentioned.

Further, the Bench asked,

"Apart from this, did you move the police authorities, 156, file a complaint?"

"No", Sibal interjected to say.

The Court further sought for a copy of the representation while adding that there appears to be two such representations.

Sibal submitted that a copy of the same would be submitted during the next hearing, August 16.

The State has assailed the Jharkhand High Court's order dated June 3 wherein the bench of Chief Justice Dr R. Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad ruled that the PIL(s) were maintainable. The bench in their order had said,

"This Court, in view of the discussions made hereinabove, is of the considered view that the issue of approaching this Court without exhausting the remedy available under Section 154, 154(3) and 156(3) of the Code or Criminal Procedure is not available in facts and circumstances of the present case reason being that in this case direction has been sought for investigation of siphoning of public money through independent agency, like CBI, ED and Income Tax Department and such orders cannot be passed under the aforesaid provisions. In view thereof the issue pertaining to approaching this Court without exhausting the remedy available under the Code of Criminal Procedure is not worth to be considered. Accordingly, rejected."

The Supreme Court, on May 23, had directed the Jharkhand High Court to first decide the maintainability of three PILs seeking CBI/ED investigation against Jharkhand CM 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 had passed the order on the plea preferred 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 with by the High Court on the next date of listing. Based on the outcome of the objections to the maintainability of the proceedings, the High Court may thereafter proceed in accordance with law", the bench had directed.

Case Title: State of Jharkhand v. Shiv Shankar Sharma| SLP(C) 10622 of 2022, Hemant Soren v. Shiv Shankar Sharma SLP(C) No.11364-11365/2022

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