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SC refuses to entertain ex-CM Soren’s plea against ED arrest

New Delhi, May 22: In a big jolt to former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain his plea challenging arrest in the money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam.

A vacation bench presided over by Justice Dipankar Datta pulled up senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Soren, for pushing “parallel proceedings” observing that the plea filed before the apex court did not disclose the fact of cognizance taken by the special court on Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) complaint.

Justice Datta recalled that the earlier plea instituted by Soren (seeking interim bail on the ground of delay in delivery of judgment by the Jharkhand High Court), which subsequently turned out to be infructuous in view of the May 3 decision of the high court dismissing his writ petition against arrest, did not disclose the pendency of bail petition before the special court. Raising serious questions on the concealment of facts in Soren’s petitions, the Bench, also comprising Justice SC Sharma, proceeded to dictate an order as to dismissal of the petition since the petitioner did not approach the highest judicial forum with clean hands. Interjecting, Sibal sought permission for withdrawal of the petition and sought directions to the Jharkhand High Court to decide Soren’s plea in a time-bound manner. Ultimately, the plea was plainly dismissed as withdrawn.

The court did not appear convinced with the submission that a cognizance order will not come into the way of release when the arrest itself is illegal on the ground that the alleged illegal possession of land is not a scheduled offence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.

The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, asked Soren if he could question the validity of his arrest after a special court has taken cognizance of the ED’s complaint and his bail plea has been rejected in the money laundering case. It raised questions on the maintainability of Soren’s plea challenging the legality of arrest after the order refusing bail recorded that a prime facie case existed against the accused.

Earlier, the Jharkhand High Court dismissed the writ petition filed by the JMM leader against the ED arrest, saying that “there is an abundance of documents that lay a foundation for the arrest and remand of the petitioner to police and judicial custody”.

Hemant Soren resigned from the chief minister’s post on January 31, after the ED informed him that it was arresting him in a money laundering case.

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