ED moves to Supreme Court against bail granted to Hemant Soren in money laundering case

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has approached the Supreme Court seeking the cancellation of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s bail. This move challenges the Jharkhand High Court’s June 28 order that granted bail to Soren in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam. Soren was sworn in as Chief Minister on July 4 following his release.

In its Special Leave Petition (SLP), the ED argued that the High Court’s decision violates the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED also objected to the High Court’s assertion that there is no prima facie case against Soren, citing procedural lapses and oversights in the order that necessitate an urgent hearing.

Hemant Soren, leader of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), was arrested on January 31 after extensive interrogation and had been in jail until his bail was granted. Justice Rongon Mukhopadhyay of the Jharkhand High Court granted him regular bail last Friday.

Following his release, Soren resumed his role as Chief Minister, won a trust vote in the assembly, and expanded the cabinet. However, his legal challenges persist as the ED’s appeal to the Supreme Court may increase his troubles.

The ED’s plea, reported by India Today, described the High Court’s bail order as “illegal” and erroneous in dismissing the prima facie case against Soren. The central agency opposed Soren’s bail, fearing it could lead to similar offences. During the High Court hearing, the ED’s counsel expressed concerns that Soren might misuse his liberty, referencing cases filed against ED officers.

The High Court, however, dismissed these concerns, noting there was no likelihood of Soren committing similar offences and that the conditions under Section 45 of the PMLA were satisfied, suggesting Soren was not guilty as alleged.

Soren’s legal team argued that he was falsely implicated by the ED, while the agency claimed he misused his position to unlawfully acquire 8.86 acres of land in the Bargain area of the state capital. The ED alleged that Soren’s media consultant, Abhishek Prasad, admitted under investigation that Soren had instructed him to alter official records to change the ownership of the plot.

The original owner of the land, Raj Kumar Pahan, had reportedly tried to file a complaint when his land was seized, but no action was taken. Soren had been summoned multiple times by the ED before being questioned at his residence and arrested on January 31.

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