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Can Soren's arrest be challenged after special court took cognisance of chargesheet in land scam: SC asks

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren's lawyer whether his arrest can be challenged after a trial court took cognizance of the chargesheet filed in a money laundering case against him in connection with the land deal case.
In the meantime, the Enforcement Directorate has opposed Soren's plea seeking interim bail.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Soren, sought time to respond to the court's query by tomorrow. Thereafter, the court re-listed the matter for a further hearing on May 22.
Meanwhile, ED opposed the interim bail of Soren and said that he was not arrested just before the election.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the ED, explained the difference between the case against Hemant Soren and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. He said that the special court found a prima facie case against Soren and has taken cognizance of the chargesheet. Soren was named in the prosecution complaint, ASG Raju said.
The top court noted that Soren applied for interim bail when his writ petition was pending before the high court.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal said if Soren's plea challenging arrest in HC remains pending for 2.5 months, then he can never apply for bail.
SC remarks that why could you not tell the High Court that since the judgement is not pronounced he is seeking bail then the court will note that it is without prejudice. Soren's lawyer then cited the case against Prabir Purkayastha.
Soren's lawyer, defending the JMM leader, said that Soren's arrest was illegal and no case was made against his client.
Yesterday, ED replied to Soren's plea and said that Soren is disentitled to seek any interim bail as he has foisted false cases on the investigating officers of ED under the SC/ST Act to prevent and obstruct the authorities under the PMLA from discharging their duties.
In a vide order dated March 21, 2024, the High Court observed that it was not desirable on the part of the opposite party (State of Jharkhand) to issue any notice under Section 41A of the CrPC directing the official of the Directorate of Enforcement to appear personally present before the office incharge of Gonda police in connection with SC/ST case and accordingly the HC stayed the operation of the notice issued to ED in the matter, the probe agency said.
"If the petitioner is released on interim bail, he will misuse the state machinery to thwart further investigation in the case as well as influence witnesses and tamper with evidence," ED has said.
ED, in the affidavit, said that around 123 elections have taken place in the last 5 years and if interim bail is to be granted for the purpose of campaigning in an election, then no politician can be arrested and kept in judicial custody since elections are all-year-round phenomena.
"In a federal structure, no set of elections is more significant than another and therefore, every politician at every level would argue that if he is not let out on interim bail, he would suffer irreversible consequences," ED said in the affidavit.
"Under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act alone, there are many politicians who are in judicial custody and their cases are examined by competent courts upholding their custody. There must be several political leaders in judicial custody throughout the country for non-PMLA offences. There is no reason why a special prayer for special treatment by the petitioner should be acceded to," ED said.
Soren has approached the top court against the Jharkhand High Court decision, which rejected his plea challenging arrest in a money laundering case. The Jharkhand High Court has rejected Soren's plea challenging arrest in a money laundering case on May 3.
Soren, in his plea before the High Court, has claimed that his arrest was unwarranted and his remand in the matter was arbitrary and illegal.
Hemant Soren, who has filed the petition through advocate Pragya Baghel, called his arrest illegal and malafide. In the meantime, he has sought interim bail.
After a prolonged moment of speculation in the media and a hide-and-seek drama, Soren was arrested by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) in the land scam case in January.
The probe pertains to huge amounts of proceeds from crime generated by forging official records by showing 'fake sellers' and purchasers in the guise of forged or bogus documents to acquire huge parcels of land valued in crores.

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