SC issues notice to ED on Hemant Soren’s plea challenging his arrest

New Delhi, May 13 (UNI) The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and sought its response to a petition filed by former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren against the state High Court order rejecting his plea against the arrest in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta asked the ED to reply on May 17.

The Bench after hearing the arguments from both sides had posted the matter for May 20. But senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Soren pressed for an expedited hearing, and the bench agreed to hear it on May 17.

Justice Khanna asked Soren’s lawyer if his client owned the land, which is the main bone of contention.

Sibal denied the charges and said that he was never in possession of the said land and had nothing to do with it.

The Senior Advocate added that the offence regarding forcible possession of land was not a scheduled offence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Sibal pressed for an early hearing, citing the ongoing elections. He highlighted that the delay in the process deprived Soren of the opportunity to participate in election campaigning.

However, he stated that the election campaigning would be over by then. Sibal stressed that the High Court delayed the pronouncement of the judgment, despite concluding the arguments on February 28, as it was delivered only on May 3.

During the arguments, when the bench reiterated that the matter would be listed on May 20, Sibal told the court, ‘It is better to dismiss the petition as the elections will be over by then.”

Sibal requested the Apex Court ‘that the interim bail order passed in favour of Arvind Kejriwal covered Soren’s case too’.

When Justice Khanna said that Soren would be out if he made a case, Sibal asserted, “The whole purpose is the elections.”

He alleged that the ED was purposefully not appearing despite being served advance notice on May 6.

Soren was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on January 31, in connection with an alleged land scam in Jharkhand. He is accused of being the primary beneficiary of fraudulently acquired land.

After the ED filed the case, Soren resigned as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand and he has been in judicial custody at the Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi since then.

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