Relief for Jharkhand CM, SC sets aside HC order in a mining lease case

New Delhi: Relief for Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, as the Supreme Court on Monday set aside the Jharkhand High Court, which had upheld the maintainability of a PILs seeking probe against Soren in a mining lease case.

On August 17, the Supreme Court had stayed the proceedings before the Jharkhand High Court on PILs filed against Chief Minister Hemant Soren alleging money laundering shell companies and irregularities while granting mining leases, and also reserved its verdict on pleas filed by the state government and Soren challenging maintainability of PILs before high court.

A bench headed by Justice U.U. Lalit and comprising Justices Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia said: “Order reserved…since the court is seized of the matter, the high court shall not proceed further with writ petitions…” The state government and the CM moved the top court against the high court order, which accepted the maintainability of PILs seeking probe against Soren.

Today, Justice Dhulia allowed the appeals filed by the state government and Soren against the high court order.

During the hearing, Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Jharkhand government, questioned the maintainability of the PILs, saying that the petitioner did not file an FIR, instead approached the high court in the matter. Also, the PIL was not in consonance with the Jharkhand High Court PIL rules. Sibal argued that the high court decided on the maintainability even before all documents were before it.

The top court noted that the chief minister already had these lands before he assumed office and it was not as if the office was misused to amass wealth. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the chief minister, pointed out that there was no prima facie satisfaction of the high court in the matter.

In June, the Jharkhand High Court had ruled that two petitions seeking CBI and ED probe against the CM in connection with the alleged irregularities in the grant of mining leases and transactions of some shell companies are maintainable. The state government and the CM moved the apex court challenging the high court order.

PILs were filed against Soren and his family members. A matter pertains to a stone mining lease granted by Soren to himself in 2021, which he surrendered on February 4 this year. The other PIL alleged that Soren and his family members allegedly parked unaccounted money in shell companies through their associates

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