The Jharkhand High Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by Chief Minister Hemant Soren, challenging issuance of summons by the ED to him in a case of alleged money laundering.
A bench of Chief Justice Sanjaya Kumar Mishra and Justice Ananda Sen observed that the period of appearance in the summons has already lapsed and hence, there is no merit in the case.
The Enforcement Directorate had sent a summons to Soren to depose at the federal agency's office in Ranchi on August 14 and on later dates to record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
Soren had stated in his petition that the summons issued to him by the probe agency were unwarranted.
The chief minister moved the high court after the Supreme Court refused to entertain his plea on the summons. A bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Bela M Trivedi, however, had granted him the liberty to approach the Jharkhand High Court for relief in the matter.
In his plea, Soren had urged the top court to declare Section 50 and Section 63 of the PMLA as ultra vires to the Constitution of India, and to issue appropriate direction to declare the summons against him as illegal and null and void.
Soren claimed in the court that the summons were issued against him out of malice, and false allegations have been levelled against him with the sole motive to create political uncertainty and unrest in the state.
In the previous high court hearing on Wednesday, the CM’s advocate P Chidambaram told the bench of Chief Justice Sanjaya Kumar Mishra and Justice Ananda Sen that it was unclear whether Soren has been called as a witness or accused.
A senior lawyer who was part of the proceedings on Thursday said the court dismissed the petition, observing that it was not maintainable at this stage on two counts.
“Firstly, the plea becomes infructuous as the life of the summons has expired and no fresh summons was pending as of now. Secondly, on the issue of challenging Sections 50 and 63 of the PMLA, the court observed that the Supreme Court has already decided on the issue, and so it is not maintainable at this stage,” he said.
The high court said there is no additional relief that it can grant at this position since the summons have already expired, the lawyer said.
Soren was earlier summoned by the ED in mid-August in connection with an alleged land scam case. However, he did not join the central agency’s probe stating that he was busy with the preparation for the Independence Day celebration in the state. He was again asked to appear on August 24 and September 9, but he did not appear before the probe agency.
-With PTI Input