SC gives no interim relief to ex-Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren

New Delhi (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday refused to consider the plea filed by former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren seeking interim release to enable him to campaign during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

A Bench presided over by Justice Sanjiv Khanna was hearing Soren’s plea filed against his arrest in connection with a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam.

However, the Bench, also comprising Justice Dipankar Datta, asked the federal anti-money laundering agency to file its reply, including the interim relief, by Monday (May 20).

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Soren, submitted that polling in Jharkhand commenced on May 13 and the remaining three phases of elections will be held on May 20, May 25 and June 1.

Sibal added that there exists “no material” against the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader and the money laundering case is based on oral statements stating that the land in question belongs to the former Chief Minister. “I am not in possession of land and I’ve never been,” he said.

Opposing this, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S.V. Raju, representing the Enforcement Directorate (ED), stated that Soren is directly involved and he could not be released on interim bail since he was arrested way before the Lok Sabha elections schedule was announced.

ASG Raju said that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) would require time to reply to Soren’s petition. Acceding to submission, the apex court directed the matter to be relisted on May 21 before the vacation bench.

Hemant Soren resigned from the chief minister’s post on January 31, after the ED informed him that it was arresting him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

In an order passed on May 3, the Jharkhand High Court dismissed Soren’s writ petition against 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”.

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