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regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

'Misled' Supreme Court bins former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren arrest challenge

The apex court said Soren had not disclosed the fact that a special court had already taken cognisance of the complaint filed by the ED and that his bail plea had been dismissed on May 13

R. Balaji New Delhi Published 23.05.24, 05:30 AM
Hemant Soren.

Hemant Soren. File Photo.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren’s plea challenging his arrest under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on the ground that he had “misled” the court.

The apex court said Soren had not disclosed the fact that a special court had already taken cognisance of the complaint filed by the ED and that his bail plea had been dismissed on May 13.

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“We expected some candour from your client. He should have said that he had already applied for bail. You were pursuing parallel remedies. Your conduct leaves a lot to be desired,” Justice Dipankar Datta, heading a vacation bench, told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Soren.

Soren was arrested on January 31 and had sought bail on par with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was released on May 13 on interim bail by the apex court to enable him to campaign for the Lok Sabha polls with the condition that he should surrender by June 1.

The ED had opposed Soren’s plea on the ground that unlike Kejriwal, he was arrested prior to the Model Code of Conduct coming into force and hence not entitled to any relief on parity with the Delhi chief minister.

The bench, which included Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, was upset that Soren had failed to disclose the fact that the trial court had on April 4 taken cognisance of the complaint filed by the ED and that his bail plea stood dismissed on May 13 by the same court. Technically, Soren should have approached Jharkhand High Court, but he had filed the special leave petition challenging his arrest on the ground that the action was illegal and violated his fundamental right to life and liberty under Article 21 ofthe Constitution.

“This is not the way you (Soren) come before the court without disclosing material facts. There is not a whisper about the April 4 cognisance,” Justice Datta remarked while referring to the appeal filed by Soren in the top court.

“We can simpliciter dismiss your SLP without commenting on the merits. But if you argue on points of law, we will have to deal with it and then that could be damaging for you,” the bench cautioned Sibal.

“We are not asking for bail, we are asking for release. The fault is mine, not the client’s, our intention was never to mislead the court,” the senior counsel submitted, but the bench was not convinced.

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