Soren withdraws plea against arrest after SC raps him for 'suppressing facts'

The vacation bench allowed Soren's counsel Kapil Sibal to withdraw his plea after warning that if the court goes into the details of the case it will be "damaging" for the former CM.
Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren
Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant SorenPhoto | PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren for "suppressing facts" regarding filing of regular bail plea in trial court in a money laundering case, prompting the JMM leader to withdraw his petition challenging arrest by the Enforcement Directorate.

A two-judge vacation bench of the top court, led by Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, refused to pass any interim relief with respect to the arrest by the ED and to grant bail to Soren to facilitate him to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections.

Slamming the JMM leader for not disclosing the fact that he filed a bail plea before the trial court and also the Special Court taking cognizance of the complaint filed by the ED.

The top court observed the fact that the cognisance was taken by the Special court on the ED complaint on April 4, 2024 and this was not mentioned in the instant plea filed by him.

"There is nowhere mentions this that you have filed the bail plea and a special court takes cognisnace of the ED complaint. You are pursuing parallel proceedings. More candour is expected from the petitioner (Soren) in disclsoing such things. Your conduct leaves a lot to be desired," the apex court observed.

Not granting any relief to Soren, the top court said, "First of all your conduct is not free from blemish. It is blameworthy."

"He is not a layman," the bench observed and said it will dismiss his plea against arrest without going into the merit of the case.

Soren's lawyer, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, took through various court orders and sought relief for his client. He said that he approached the Supreme Court. On February 2, the SC sent him back to the High Court.

Sibal desperately sought to make a distinction that taking of cognisance by the Special court would not come in the way of his writ petition. But the court, however, could not listen to him and asked him, why he did not disclose the material facts of the case.

Sibal then agreed to withdraw the plea, which was allowed by the bench.

Soren, so far, could not get any relief from any courts in the case.

The Supreme Court was hearing the former Jharkhand CM and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader, Soren's petition challenging his arrest by the ED in the money laundering case related to an alleged land scam.

Opposing the submissions of Sibal, the Additional Solicitor General (ASG), S V Raju, who appeared on behalf of the ED, said that Soren was in illegal possession of 8.86 acres of land in Ranchi since 2009-10.

The former Chief Minister of Jharkhand Soren, had moved the Supreme court challenging his arrest in the case, after his plea was rejected by the court.

Soren, was in jail, since he was arrested by the ED on January 31 in connection with his alleged involvement in the money laundering case. He, however claimed innocence in the case and said that he was neither involved in money laundering case nor in "any illegal act."

Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren
No interim bail yet for Hemant Soren from SC; plea to be heard by vacation bench

On May 13, Soren referred to the top court's order granting interim bail to Kejriwal in the money laundering case against him linked to the alleged Delhi excise scam and sought identical relief for himself.

In his appeal filed through advocate Praghya Baghel, the JMM leader said the high court had erred in dismissing his plea.

The ED has alleged that "huge amounts of proceeds of crime" were generated by Soren through manipulation of official records by showing dummy sellers and purchasers in the guise of forged/bogus documents to acquire huge parcels of land having value in crores of rupees.

The probe against Soren pertains to an 8.86-acre plot of land in Ranchi that the ED has alleged was illegally acquired by him.

Soren is currently lodged in judicial custody in Ranchi's Birsa Munda Central Jail.

(With inputs from PTI)

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