On Friday, the Jharkhand High Court accepted the maintainability of public interest litigation (PIL), seeking a probe against Chief Minister Hemant Soren for alleged irregularities in the grant of mining lease and on transactions of some shell companies allegedly operated by his family members. A division bench of Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad had concluded the hearing on June 1 on the directive of the Supreme Court.
The court accepted the maintainability of the PIL and fixed June 10 as the next date of hearing. The bench held that there is no anomaly in the PIL filed by one Shiv Shankar Sharma, and there is no bar as to why the high court can't hear it. The merits of the case are yet to be decided and the high court said it will hear the matter at length again on June 10 in a physical medium.
Advocate General Rajeev Ranjan pleaded for some more time to analyze the order passed by the court and informed the court that senior advocate Kapil Sibbal, who appeared for the state government, is not available for arguments on the next date. The high court rebuked Rajeev Ranjan and said that the date will not be altered, rather the counsels will have to alter their schedule to assist the court.
The issue of maintainability of the PIL was raised by the government as a last resort before the Supreme Court to curb the proceedings before the high court. More so, at a time when petitioner Sharma is pressing hard for a CBI probe in the matter. The Supreme Court, however, did not decide the matter and had instead directed the high court to decide the point of maintainability first. The parties in the case will now argue on the merits of the case.
Sharma had filed two separate PILs. The first one relates to the alleged allotment of a license in his name for mining stones over 88 decimals of land in Angara Block in Ranchi. The second PIL alleges the operation of shell companies by Soren and his acquaintances for laundering money. The PIL also targets IAS Puja Singhal who was the mining secretary when Soren himself was the mines minister.