Hemant Soren gets breather from Supreme Court in illegal mining case

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“Satyamev Jayate,” Soren, who was accused of giving himself a mining contract as mining minister, said on Twitter after the Supreme Court ruling.

“We honored these two appeals and overturned the June 3, 2022 injunction by the Jharkhand High Court, which held that these PILs were unenforceable,” the bench said.

A bench of judges UU Lalit, SR Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia reserved its verdict on Aug. 17 on separate pleas by the government of Jharkhand and Soren against the Supreme Court’s order accepting the maintainability of the PILs.

The Supreme Court had previously barred the Supreme Court from proceedings with the PILs seeking an investigation into Soren in the mining lease issue.

Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who appeared before the state government, had previously argued that the Supreme Court’s decision on sustainability was before all documents were submitted to the Court.

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Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared before Soren, had questioned the PIL petitioner’s credentials.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, who appeared before the Enforcement Directorate, had said that criminal petitions should not be discarded for technical reasons.

BJP National Vice President and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das alleged in February this year that Soren had abused his position and granted himself the favor of a mine lease, an issue involving both conflict of interest and corruption. He also alleged violations of provisions of the People’s Representation Act.

The Election Commission took note of the controversy and messaged Soren in May asking for his version of the mining agreement issued in his favor when he owned the Mining and Environmental Portfolios.

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Owning a lease is against section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which deals with disqualification from government contracts, etc., EC sources had said. The issue is still pending with the poll panel.

The pleadings before the Jharkhand High Court had called for an investigation into alleged irregularities in the granting of mining leases, as well as the transactions of some shell companies allegedly linked to the prime minister’s relatives and associates.

On June 3, the Supreme Court said it held that subpoenas cannot be dismissed on the grounds of maintainability and that it will handle the cases on merit.

In its order, a Supreme Court division bench said: “This court, after answering the matter as formulated by this court, and on the basis of the discussions made above, summarizes its position and believes that the subpoenas may be not be discarded on the grounds of maintainability.”

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On May 24, the apex court had asked the Supreme Court to first hear the preliminary objections to the maintainability of the PILs seeking an investigation. It had passed the injunction on a petition filed by the state against two Supreme Court orders in the case.

It noted that three PILs have been filed with the Supreme Court to request an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the corruption, abuse of office and money laundering allegations against Soren. Both Soren and his Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) have denied the allegations.