In a relief to the Chief Minister of Jharkhand Hemant Soren, the Supreme Court on Monday held that the Public Interest Litigation petitions filed in the Jharkhand High Court seeking probe against him for alleged money laundering are not maintainable.
The Top Court set aside the order of the High Court which held as maintainable the PILs which sought probe against Soren for alleged money laundering through shell companies and obtaining a mining lease while he was in power.
The order was reserved by a bench comprising Chief Justice of India Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia. Justice Dhulia, who pronounced the judgment today, stated that the Court has allowed the appeals moved by Jharkhand State government and CM Soren assailing the High Court's order which accepted maintainability of the PILs. The State and the CM moved the Supreme Court after the High Court accepted the sealed cover documents produced by the Enforcement Directorate in the PILs.
"We have allowed the appeals holding that the PILs are not maintainable", Justice Dhulia stated. The judgment is yet to be uploaded.
During the hearing, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for State government submitted an array of submissions which included, showcasing the questionable conduct of the original petitioner, how the High Court looked into the merits of the matter despite the Supreme Court order which asked it to consider maintainability first and how the Enforcement Directorate produced materials in a sealed cover without there being any incriminating evidence against Soren.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi for the CM Soren submitted how no credentials were shown to the satisfaction of the court , how the petitioner and his advocate suppressed the PILs that were filed by them and how there was no prima facie satisfaction of the High Court in the matter.
Countering these submissions, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate argued the petitions which raise serious issues of criminal activities should not be thrown out on the technical grounds.
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.
State of Jharkhand v. Shiv Shankar Sharma| SLP(C) 10622/2022, Hemant Soren v. Shiv Shankar Sharma SLP(C) No.11364-11365/2022