The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bail with rap on knuckle for Soren

Ranchi, Sept. 3: Jharkhand High Court today granted conditional bail to Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren in the Giridih double murder and Chirudih massacre cases.

A single-member bench of Justice Tapen Sen ordered the accused to deposit two bail bonds of Rs 1.5 lakh each in the cases and said it seemed the former Union minister had absconded for years and not presented himself before the trial court.

During the course of arguments, it was found that eight of the 10 accused in the Giridih case have been acquitted. The petitioner should also be given a chance to face trial, the court said.

The bench said Soren has been accused of not appearing for his case over the last 30 years and “playing truant with the court”.

The court agreed to grant bail on condition that the JMM chief would be present at each hearing. He will be exempt from personal appearance only when he receives prior court permission. Soren’s counsel had said he would be present at each hearing from now on.

When the bench ordered that Soren’s passport be submitted in court, his counsel said it was with the CBI. The court also forbade him from leaving the country without its consent and told him not to obstruct the trial.

“If the petitioner is found to be causing obstruction in the trial proceedings by using his political clout or trying to browbeat the court proceedings with his show of might and power, the bail order will stand cancelled,” the court said. The bail will also be cancelled if Soren tries to influence the trial or witnesses.

Arguing on his behalf, the defence counsel said Soren was the chairman of the Jharkhand Area Autonomous Council and an MP. The case had not been brought up for years and no arrests were made. The counsel said the chairman had never absconded and was always within reach.

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