Former Jharkhand CM and JMM chief Hemant Soren sent to 5-day ED custody

Hemant Soren was arrested on January 31 after a seven-hour grilling by the Enforcement Directorate in the money-laundering case.

February 02, 2024 01:48 pm | Updated 02:00 pm IST -  Ranchi (Jharkhand)

Former Jharkhand CM and JMM leader Hemant Soren being produced before a PMLA court following his arrest by Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials. File.

Former Jharkhand CM and JMM leader Hemant Soren being produced before a PMLA court following his arrest by Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials. File. | Photo Credit: PTI

Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren was on February 2 remanded to five days’ Enforcement Directorate custody by a special PMLA court in Ranchi in connection with a money-laundering case linked to an alleged land fraud, lawyers said.

Mr. Soren was arrested on Wednesday night after a seven-hour grilling by the ED in the money laundering case. He resigned as the Chief Minister before that.

Editorial | Change in Jharkhand: On political leaders under the ED’s scanner  

The special PMLA court had on Thursday sent the JMM leader to judicial custody for a day.

The Enforcement Directorate said that land parcels spanning 8.5 acres were part of the criminal proceeds that the former CM allegedly acquired. ED stated that in a raid conducted on April 13, 2023, they unearthed several property-related records and registers that were in the possession of Revenue Sub-Inspector Bhanu Pratap Prasad.

It informed further that the probe further revealed that Bhanu Pratap Prasad and others are part of a “very large syndicate involved in corrupt practices of acquiring properties forcefully as well as on the basis of false deeds.

“Considering the facts and circumstances and taking into consideration the activities and processes of money laundering in which Soren is directly involved and is also a party with the said Bhanu Pratap and others, there are sufficient reasons to believe that Soren is guilty of the offence of money laundering as per section 3 of PMLA 2002,” the agency stated.

The former CM on Friday moved the Supreme Court against his arrest, but the court refused to entertain his plea, challenging his arrest by the ED in the land deal case and asking him to approach the concerned High Court with his petition.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna, M.M. Sundresh, and Bela M. Trivedi said that they are not inclined to entertain the petition.

“We are not inclined to entertain the present petition,” adding that it left open to petitioner to approach the jurisdictional HC. The top court also said that it is open for the petitioner to urge the high court to expeditiously decide the case,” the court stated.

When the bench assembled early in the morning, the court asked the petitioner’s lawyer, “Why don’t you approach HC”

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Mr. Soren, submitted that the matter deals with a Chief Minister who has been arrested. The top court remarked courts are open to everybody and high courts are constitutional. If they allow one person then they have to allow everybody, the top court said.

Mr. Soren challenged the ED’s summons dated January 22, 2024, and January 25, 2024, purportedly issued under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, as illegal, null, and void, and accordingly quash the impugned summons and all steps taken and proceedings emanating therefrom.

The JMM chief claimed that he has been facing constant harassment at the hands of the ED, alleging that the probe agency was misusing its authority and powers at the bidding of its political masters.

The probe pertains to proceeds of crime generated by allegedly forging official records by showing ‘fake sellers’ and purchasers in the guise of forged or bogus documents to acquire huge parcels of land having value in crores.

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