The Delhi High Court dismissed an appeal filed by the President of JMM (Jharkhand Mukti Morcha) Shibu Soren against Lokpal of India in a corruption case.

The Court said that the Lokpal is yet to take a decision as to whether or not a prima facie case exists for directing investigation against JMM President by any agency including the Delhi Special Police Establishment.

A Division Bench of Justice Rekha Palli and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar observed, “From the aforesaid specific allegations levelled by the respondent no. 2, it is evident to us that the complaint pertains not only to purchase of properties, which the appellant claims were purchased more than 7 years ago, but also pertains to ongoing incidents of amassing wealth by misuse of power by the appellant. In the light of these allegations, we are unable to accept the appellant’s plea that it was a fit case where the respondent no. 1 ought to have at the very first instance rejected the complaint as being barred by limitation. In fact, as held hereinabove, the respondent no. 1 is yet to take a decision as to whether or not a prima facie case exists for directing investigation against the appellant by any agency including the Delhi Special Police Establishment. In this factual matrix, we find no infirmity with the approach adopted by the respondent no.1.”

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for the appellant while Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta appeared for the respondents.

Brief Facts -

Shibu Soren preferred an appeal against the order of the Single Judge vide which his writ petition was disposed of by rejecting his prayer for quashing of a complaint pending before the Lokpal by holding that it is yet to take a decision on the material provided by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) as to whether an investigation against him is necessary. The said complaint was filed by BJP MP (Member of Parliament) Nishikant Dubey under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 alleging that Soren by abusing or misusing his official position had along with his family members and in connivance with his relatives and family friends, acquired several immovable properties in various cities of Jharkhand State by indulging in corrupt practices.

The Lokpal upon receipt of the said complaint, directed CBI to initiate a preliminary inquiry against Soren under Section 20(1) to ascertain as to whether a prima facie case for proceeding further in the matter existed against him. The CBI was granted six weeks’ time to submit its report and the period was repeatedly extended at its request. The Lokpal found that Soren had requested for deferment of six weeks to enable him to study the documents, which request for deferment was rejected but the matter was still adjourned, granting last opportunity to him to make submissions. It is at this stage that he approached the court.

The High Court in view of the above facts said, “Since we also find that a final decision under section 20(3) is yet to be taken by respondent no. 1, we have no hesitation in concurring with the learned Single Judge that the respondent no. 1 is yet to decide whether a prima facie case exists for directing investigation by any agency against the appellant, which decision will be taken after granting an opportunity of hearing to the appellant, as envisaged under Section 20(3) of the Act.”

The Court further considered the plea of the appellant that the respondent ought to have rejected the complaint in limine under Rule 4(c)(v) of the Lokpal (Complaint) Rules, 2020.

“In order to appreciate this plea, we have carefully perused the complaint, but find that in his complaint the complainant/respondent no. 2 has not only levelled allegations against the appellant of purchasing properties in his and his family members’ name by using unfair means, but has also raised a grievance that the appellant and his family members were consistently misusing the funds of the public exchequer for their personal and political gains, with the assistance of one Mr. Amit Aggarwal, who was constructing a 22 storeyed building in Salt Lake, Kolkata. It has been further alleged by the respondent no. 2 that the appellant was purchasing land around Ranchi through various shell companies”, it also noted.

The Court concluded and held that the writ petition filed by Soren was premature and hence, refused to interfere with the impugned order.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the appeal.

Cause Title- Shibu Soren v. Lokpal of India & Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2024:DHC:1322-DB)


Appellant: Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal, Arunabh Chowdhury, Advocates Pragya Baghel, Vaibhav Tomar, Aparajita Jamwal, and Aditya Bharadwaj.

Respondents: SGI Tushar Mehta, Senior Advocate Atmaram N S Nadkarni, Advocates Apoorv Kurup, Gauri Goburdhan, Nidhi Mittal, Muskaan Gupta, Akhil Hasija, Advocates Rishi K Awasthi, Piyush Vatsa, Amit Vikarm Awasthi, and Rahul Kumar Gupta.

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