Chief Minister Hemant Soren Wednesday told Jharkhand High Court that summons issued to him by the Enforcement Directorate in a case of alleged money laundering are unwarranted.
His advocate P Chidambaram told the bench of Chief Justice Sanjaya Kumar Mishra and Justice Ananda Sen that it is unclear whether Soren has been called as a witness or accused.
Chidambaram argued through video-conferencing and the case will be heard again on October 13.
The ED had sent summons to Soren to depose at the federal agency’s office in Ranchi on August 14 and later to record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Soren moved the HC after the Supreme Court refused to entertain his plea against the summons. A bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Bela M Trivedi on September 18, however, granted the chief minister the liberty to approach the Jharkhand High Court for relief in the matter.
The HC on October 6 asked Soren to rectify the “defects” in his petition which challenged the summons to him by the ED. The chief minister's counsel was asked to correct the errors in the petition which was filed on September 23.
Soren in his petition urged the high court to stay the summons issued to him by the ED. He also questioned the jurisdiction of the investigating agency for sending summons to him.
The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) executive president also alleged that political vendetta is one of the reasons for being harassed by the ED.
The ED had sent a summons to Soren to depose at the federal agency’s office in Ranchi on August 14 and later to record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
He had also skipped the ED’s summons in an alleged defence land scam case citing pre-scheduled events.
Soren has been asked by the agency to appear in its office which he skipped multiple times.
The ED intends to question the chief minister with regards to land scams running into crores involving the land mafia, senior bureaucrats and politicians, sources said.
The 48-year-old JMM leader was interrogated for over nine hours by the ED on November 17 last year in connection with another money-laundering case linked to alleged illegal mining in the state.
The central probe agency is investigating more than a dozen land deals, including one related to defence land, wherein a group of mafia, middlemen and bureaucrats allegedly connived to forge deeds and documents dating as long back as 1932.
The ED has arrested several people so far in the state, including Soren’s political aide Pankaj Mishra.
Soren was initially summoned by the ED on November 3, 2022, but he did not appear citing official engagements.
-With PTI Input