Indian Supreme Court Refuses to Entertain Jharkhand Chief Minister’s Plea Against ED Summons

Indian Supreme Court Refuses to Entertain Jharkhand Chief Minister's Plea Against ED Summons
Indian Supreme Court Refuses to Entertain Jharkhand Chief Minister's Plea Against ED Summons
Indian Supreme Court Refuses to Entertain Jharkhand Chief Minister's Plea Against ED Summons
Indian Supreme Court Refuses to Entertain Jharkhand Chief Minister's Plea Against ED Summons

Indian Supreme Court Refuses to Entertain Jharkhand Chief Minister’s Plea Against ED Summons

Indian Supreme Court Refuses to Entertain Jharkhand Chief Minister’s Plea Against ED Summons. Image/PTI

A Witch-Hunt Allegation India’s top court, on Monday, took a pivotal decision in a high-profile case involving Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Soren had petitioned the Supreme Court, challenging the ED’s summons, which accused him of money laundering in connection with a land scam case. The court’s verdict, delivered by a bench comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Bela M Trivedi, was significant, and it marked a new chapter in this legal battle.

The Verdict and a Path Forward The bench, instead of entertaining Soren’s petition, granted him the liberty to approach the Jharkhand High Court for relief. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Soren, passionately argued that this was a witch-hunt. In contrast, Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, representing the ED, cited numerous legal precedents to support their stance.

In response to Rohatgi’s arguments, the bench suggested, “Mr. Rohatgi, why don’t you go to the high court? No no, go to the high court. We will permit you to withdraw.” Ultimately, the matter was dismissed as withdrawn, leaving both parties to explore their legal options further.

Section 50 of PMLA Under Scrutiny In his petition, Soren contended that the summons he received was a “clear misuse” of Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, which he believed infringed upon his personal liberty as enshrined in the Constitution. Section 50 empowers the ED to summon an accused and record a statement admissible as evidence in court.

Recurrent Summons Despite the legal wrangling, Soren continues to face summons from the ED. He is scheduled to appear before the ED’s zonal office in Ranchi on September 23. This isn’t the first time he has been summoned by the ED. Earlier, he filed a Writ Petition challenging the summons, especially after the second issuance on August 19.

Subsequently, after being summoned for the third time on September 1, Soren informed the central investigation agency that his petition challenging the notice was pending in the Supreme Court. As a result, he requested not to be issued further summons. However, he conspicuously missed the third summons on September 9, attending a dinner hosted by Rashtrapati Bhavan for G20 Summit leaders in New Delhi instead.

ED’s Caveat in the Supreme Court The ED has taken its own legal measures by filing a Caveat in the Supreme Court. A Caveat grants a person the right to be heard before any decision is made against them. It prevents a court from issuing an order without hearing the concerned party’s side.

The ED filed this Caveat on August 25, as they anticipated that Soren might obtain an order from the apex court without their side being heard. When Soren didn’t display urgency in getting his petition heard, the ED served him a third summons.

Ongoing ED Investigations The ED is currently probing two significant cases of alleged money laundering in Jharkhand. The first pertains to illegal mining in Sahibganj, where Soren, a 48-year-old Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader, was interrogated for over nine hours by the ED on November 17 of the previous year. The second case involves an alleged land scam in the state capital, implicating 13 individuals, including IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan, and businessmen Amit Agarwal and Bishnu Agarwal.

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