Seek relief in HC: SC to Hemant Soren

The Supreme Court Friday refused to entertain a plea filed by former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money laundering case and asked him to instead move the state high court.

A three-judge special bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna asked Soren as to why he had not approached the Jharkhand High Court first.

Appearing for Soren, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said,”we are dealing with a chief minister”, to which Justice Khanna remarked, “courts are open to everybody. If we allow one person [to approach the apex court directly], then we have to allow everybody”.

Refusing to interfere, Justice Khanna remarked that the high court is also a “constitutional court”.

Soren had initially filed a plea before the Jharkhand High Court but had later withdrawn it.

The Supreme Court also turned down the request of Soren’s lawyer to direct the high court to decide his plea expeditiously. The top court said it would “not control a constitutional court”.

In a related development, a court in Ranchi remanded Soren to five days custodial interrogation by the ED. The court had reserved its order on Thursday after the ED sought 10 days of custodial interrogation.

The ED had arrested Soren on Wednesday after nearly seven hours of questioning.

Soren was confronted with, what the ED claims is, documentary evidence it has gathered linking him to illegal mining, a land scam and one other scandal. Soren was unable to answer the questions put to him, following which he was arrested, agency sources said.

Soren was also confronted with statements of co-accused recorded under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which is admissible in court, revealing Soren’s alleged involvement in the land scandal.

Among the alleged scams Soren is accused of, one relates to illegal transfer of a parcel of land in Ranchi while the other pertains to illegal stone mining in Sahibganj district.

Soren was summoned by the ED after “fresh” evidence came to light following the questioning of Pankaj Mishra, an alleged close aide of the former CM. In July last year, the agency had raided Mishra’s premises and those of some others related to him, before arresting him.

After the raids, the ED had frozen deposits of Rs 11.88 crore lying in 37 bank accounts belonging to Mishra and Dahoo Yadav, a person allegedly linked to him.

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