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Cash recovery, 8.5-acre land parcels...: ED cites grounds for arresting former Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren

Ranchi: Sharing details of the grounds for arresting former chief minister Hemant Soren, the ED on Friday said it recovered cash worth in excess of Rs 36 lakh from the possession of the JMM chief along with documents linked to the ongoing investigation into the alleged acquisition of land by 'fraudulent means'.
The central probe agency added that land parcels spanning 8.5 acres were part of the criminal proceeds that the former CM allegedly acquired.
Sharing further details of the arrest, which was made under Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, the ED stated through an official statement that in a raid conducted on April 13, 2023, they unearthed several property-related records and registers that were in the possession of Revenue Sub-Inspector Bhanu Pratap Prasad.
"On April 13, 2023, searches were conducted at several premises including, the premises of Bhanu Pratap Prasad, Revenue Sub Inspector, Bargain, Ranchi and 11 trunks of voluminous property documents along with seventeen original registers (daft 11) were seized from his possession, Bhanu Pratap Prasad was custodian of many original registers in which the land records (ownership details) are maintained. Bhanu Pratap Prasad was involved in corrupt practices which included falsification of original records and had been a party with several other persons in their activities linked to the acquisition of landed properties in fraudulent manners," the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) stated in its official release.
"On the basis of this information, shared with Jharkhand Government under section 66(2) of PMLA, an FIR was registered against one Bhanu Pratap Prasad. Further, on the basis of the FIR, ECIR was recorded by the Directorate of Enforcement, Ranchi Zonal office on June 26, 2023. The information shared under section 66(2) by ED is an integral part of the FIR lodged by the Ranchi Police under sections 465/ 467/ 468/ 469/ 471/ 466/ 420/ 379/ 474 of IPC out of which sections 420, 467 and 471 are scheduled offences," the central agency added.
It informed further that the probe further revealed that Bhanu Pratap Prasad and others are part of a "very large syndicate involved in corrupt practices of acquiring properties forcefully as well as on the basis of false deeds, falsification of government records, tampering, with original revenue documents etc".
"It is revealed that the said Bhanu Pratap Prasad was actively involved in hatching conspiracies with other persons to acquire and conceal various properties in an illegal manner including the properties which are illegally acquired and possessed by Hemant Soren. The details of the properties, which are illegally acquired and possessed by Soren have also been recovered from the mobile phone of Bhanu Pratap Prasad," the ED alleged.
The agency added that the list of 12 landed properties which are adjacently situated and altogether make up a very big property of an area of about 8 decimals, was recovered from Bhanu Pratap's mobile phone.
"The photo of the above-mentioned list of landed properties also bears certain hand-written remarks made by Bhanu Pratap, after he had made verification of those parcels of land," the ED informed, adding, "Investigation has revealed that this property is and has been illegally acquired and possessed by Hemant Soren."
"A survey was conducted under section 16 of the PMLA, 2002 on the said property which established that the land is in illegal possession, occupation and use of Hemant Soren," the central probe agency added.
"Searches were conducted at the residential premises of Hemant Soren. Huge cash amounting to Rs 36,34,500 was seized from the cupboard of the room under his use and occupation along, with other documents linked to the investigation being conducted into the matter of the acquisition of landed properties by fraudulent means. In the instant case, the property as discussed above admeasuring approximately 8.5 Acres is proceeds of crime which have been in unauthorised and illegal possession and use of Soren," it stated further.
The agency informed further that as per Section 3 of PMLA, 2002, Soren "directly indulged in the process connected with acquisition, possession and the use of proceeds of the crime".
"He is knowingly a party along with Bhanu Pratap and others in the activities connected with concealment of the original records for projecting the property acquired by him in an illegal manner as an untainted property," the ED stated, adding, "Further, the process or the activity connected with the acquisition, possession and use of proceeds of crime by projecting it as untainted property is continuing as on day as he is still enjoying the said proceeds of crime by its possession, occupation and use by claiming it as an untainted property."
"Considering the facts and circumstances as stated above, and taking into consideration the activities and processes of money laundering in which Soren is directly involved and is also a party with the said Bhanu Pratap and others, there are sufficient reasons to believe that Soren is guilty of the offence of money laundering as per section 3 of PMLA 2002," it added.
After an intriguing spell during which the JMM chief allegedly went incommunicado, only to be pictured later holding a meeting at his official residence, Soren was finally arrested by the ED after several summonses in the land 'scam' case and several hours of questioning on Wednesday night.
The former CM later moved the Supreme Court against his arrest, claiming that the central agency abused its powers and "acted in a malafide manner to destabilise a democratically elected government in Jharkhand".
Soren, who has filed the petition through advocate Pragya Baghel, challenging his arrest, sought an urgent hearing of his petition.
After senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Soren, mentioned the plea before the Supreme Court on Thursday morning, the top court agreed to list it on Friday.

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