The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi setback for Soren on sickbed

New Delhi/Ranchi, March 14: Former Union cabinet minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Shibu Soren was refused bail by Delhi High Court today, throwing his membership of Parliament at stake due to continued absence from the House.

A division bench of Justice Manmohan Sarin and Justice S.L. Bhayana, dismissing Soren’s plea for suspension of sentence of life imprisonment in the murder case of his private secretary Shashinath Jha, observed: “It cannot be said at this stage that the case is bereft of any evidence implicating the appellant.”

“There are no special circumstances warranting suspension of the sentence,” the bench said, adding: “While human liberty is sacrosanct, we cannot overlook the fact that the appellant has been convicted after a detailed and elaborate trial.”

JMM MP Sudam Marandi said the party was aware that if the prescribed time limit for absence lapsed, Soren could lose membership.

A Delhi trial court on December 5, 2006, had sentenced Soren and four others to life term for abduction and murder of Jha. After resigning as a minister and his subsequent arrest, Soren has been unable to attend Parliament.

Defence lawyer Sanjiv Kumar, appearing as counsel for Soren today, said the former mines minister will be able to retain membership.

The court had reserved its order on Soren’s bail plea on March 8 and to expedite the hearing of the case it directed the CBI, which is a prosecuting agency in this case, to prepare documents within 15 days and posted the hearing on Soren’s appeal to April 5.

CBI had opposed Soren’s bail plea and suspension of sentence contending that he had masterminded the conspiracy for abduction and murder of his private secretary.

Meanwhile, Soren was apparently “shocked” when party leaders broke the news to him at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences where he is undergoing treatment.

With moist eyes and stoic silence for a few minutes, Soren looked composed. He, however, murmured after a while: “Nothing to worry about. Keep doing the party work diligently to strengthen the organisation.”

Party sources revealed that Soren had skipped lunch and was tensed from the morning, apparently hoping for a favourable verdict.

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