Mining lease case: SC refuses to halt HC proceedings against Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren

In another setback to the Jharkhand government, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay the proceedings before the High Court against Chief Minister Hemant Soren in a mining lease case. A bench of Justices JK Maheshwari and Hima Kohli was listening to a plea by the Jharkhand government, challenging the High Court order which refused to quash the PILs against CM Soren.

“We are keeping it open. Approach High Court and raise when it is being heard,” said Justice Maheshwari.”We cannot look at it in a piecemeal way. High Court has already decided what we had asked them to,” Justice Kohli added.

The apex court eventually adjourned the matter for hearing after summer vacation.

The petition before the Jharkhand HC seeks a probe into alleged money laundering, embezzlement of funds, and irregularities in granting mining leases. The High Court had earlier directed a CBI probe of the matter, after reviewing a sealed cover report from the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The bench had directed the State to produce details of the 16 FIRs relating to an alleged MGNREGA scam and took note of the fact that a Mining Secretary was arrested and suspended in connection with the case.

The State had then approached the Supreme Court against the proceedings. The top court on May 24, directed the High Court to decide upfront the maintainability of the PILs. The High Court on June 3 held that the proceedings are maintainable.

Jharkhand govt claims PILs ‘politically motivated’

The State then approached the apex court against the same. Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Jharkhand government, submitted that the PIL is politically motivated and has been filed only with the intention of destabilizing the state government.

The Court eventually posted the case for hearing before another bench once the Court reopens. “On Rohatgi’s request, List the matter upon reopening before an appropriate bench,” the order said.

Three PILs have been filed before the Jharkhand HC seeking a probe by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the allegations of misuse of office, corruption, and money laundering against the Chief Minister and his associates. Meanwhile, CM Hemant Soren has rejected the allegations.

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