The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgement on separate pleas of the Jharkhand government and Chief Minister Hemant Soren against an order of the High Court that accepted the maintainability of a PIL for a probe against the JMM leader accused of granting himself a mining lease as the state’s mining minister.
A Bench of Justices U U Lalit, S R Bhat, and Sudhanshu Dhulia heard the arguments of the counsels for the parties.
“Heard counsels for the parties. Order reserved. Since the court is seized of the matter, the High Court shall not proceed with the matter,” the Bench said.
The apex court said a copy of the petition along with annexures and the pleadings exchanged by the parties be placed on record.
BJP national vice-president and former Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das had in February this year claimed Soren abused his position and granted himself the favour of a mining lease, an issue involving both the conflict of interest and corruption.
He also alleged violations of provisions of the Representation of People Act.
Taking cognisance of the controversy, the Election Commission of India (ECI) sent a notice to Soren in May seeking his version on the mining lease issued in his favour when he held the Mining and Environment portfolios.
Owning a lease violates Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which deals with Disqualification for Government contracts, etc, EC sources had said. The issue is still pending with the EC.
The plea before the Jharkhand High Court had sought a probe into alleged irregularities in the grant of mining lease and also the transactions of some shell companies allegedly linked to the Chief Minister’s family members and associates.