Money Laundering Case: ED Moves SC Challenging Bail to Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren

Money Laundering Case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has approached the Supreme Court to challenge the Jharkhand High Court’s order granting bail to JMM leader Hemant Soren in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam.

The high court had granted bail to Hemant Soren on June 28, and he took the oath as the Chief Minister of Jharkhand on July 4, 2024.

The Controversial Arrest

Hemant Soren, the executive president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), had resigned as Chief Minister shortly before being arrested by the ED on January 31 in connection with the case. During the  hearing, ED’s counsel argued that releasing Soren on bail might lead to him committing a similar offense and referred to cases involving ED officers at the SC/ST police station.

The high court, however, stated, “Though the conduct of the petitioner has been sought to be highlighted by the Enforcement Directorate on account of the First Information Report instituted by the petitioner against the officials of the ED, but on an overall conspectus of the case, there is no likelihood of the petitioner committing a similar nature of offense.”

The order also noted that the findings recorded by the court “satisfy the condition as at section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, to the effect that there is reason to believe that the petitioner is not guilty of the offense as alleged.”

Soren’s lawyer argued strongly for his bail, asserting that he was falsely implicated in a criminal case by the central agency.

The ED, opposing Soren’s bail plea, alleged that he misused his position as Chief Minister to “unlawfully” acquire 8.86 acres in the Bargain area of the state capital. The agency claimed that during the investigation, Soren’s media consultant, Abhishek Prasad, admitted that the JMM leader instructed him to manipulate official records to change the ownership details of the plot.

The central probe agency also alleged that the original owner of the land, Raj Kumar Pahan, attempted to lodge a complaint when his land was being usurped, but it was never acted upon. Soren had been summoned multiple times by the ED before being questioned at his residence and subsequently arrested on January 31, 2024.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte