Published on: 19 September 2023 at 11:17 IST
The Supreme Court has declined to entertain the plea of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren challenging summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a case of alleged money laundering.
A bench consisting of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Bela M Trivedi has granted Soren the liberty to approach the Jharkhand High Court for relief in this matter. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Soren, argued in court that this is a clear case of a witch-hunt.
“Mr. Rohatgi, why don’t you go to the High Court? No no, go to the High Court. We will permit you to withdraw,” remarked the bench, leading to the matter being dismissed as withdrawn.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing on behalf of the ED, contended that the issue in question had already been addressed by numerous judicial decisions.
Hemant Soren had moved the Supreme Court to challenge the summons he received from the ED, requiring him to appear at the federal agency’s Ranchi office on August 14 and provide a statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Previously, Soren had avoided the ED’s summons in an alleged defense land scam case, citing pre-scheduled commitments.
The 48-year-old leader of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha had previously been interrogated for over nine hours by the ED on November 17 of the previous year, in connection with a separate money-laundering case linked to alleged illegal mining in the state.
The central investigative agency is examining more than a dozen land transactions, including one concerning defense land, where a group of individuals, including mafia members, intermediaries, and bureaucrats, allegedly collaborated to fabricate deeds and documents dating back as far as 1932.
Several individuals, including Soren’s political aide Pankaj Mishra, have been arrested in the state as part of the ED’s investigation. Initially, Soren was summoned by the ED on November 3, 2022, but he did not appear, citing official commitments. Subsequently, he challenged the summons and later sought a three-week deferment.