New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren to approach the state high court to challenge the summons issued to him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering case.
“Why don’t you go the high court?,” asked a bench comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M. Trivedi to senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, representing Soren.
Rohtagi explained that CM Soren approached the top court as similar pleas challenging the vires of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 are already pending before it.
The bench granted the liberty to approach the jurisdictional high court dismissing the plea as withdrawn and declined to pass any interim relief in the matter.
The apex court did not appreciate the contention raised by Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, appearing for ED, that the plea challenged the proceedings only at the stage of summons, adding that the petitioner “has all the rights to challenge” it.
CM Soren approached the Supreme Court after the anti-money laundering agency summoned him to appear before it on August 24 in connection with the land grabbing case, where the central agency has already arrested 13 people, including an IAS officer.
Previously, the Chief Minister of the state was questioned in connection with the illegal mining case for around 10 hours along with his wife at ED’s Ranchi office.
Recently on September 17, fresh summons were issued to Soren for a fourth time to join the probe initiated by the anti-money laundering agency.
During investigation, it has been revealed that the accused used documents from 1932 to wrongfully seize people’s lands and would tell the victims that their lands had already been sold by their fathers or grandfathers.
The accused allegedly took possession of the lands given on lease to the Army and fraudulently sold them elsewhere. Although the case is from Jharkhand, its ramifications are extended to Bihar and Kolkata.