The Supreme Court will hear the interim bail plea of former Jharkhand Chief Minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren on Tuesday i.e. May 21, 2024. The Court ordered that the matter be listed before the Vacation Bench and directed the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) to file a reply in the interim bail plea and the petition filed by Soren challenging his arrest by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED).

A Special Leave Petition was filed by JMM Leader Soren challenging the order passed on May 3, 2024, by the Jharkhand High Court dismissing his application which challenged the arrest by the ED in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam.

The Bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta observed, "Short reply to the SLP and Interim Bail Application shall be filed by Monday. List before vacation bench on Tuesday."

The Court told ASG SV Raju, appearing for the ED, that on the last date of the hearing Sibal submitted that he was not involved in the offence and elections are going on.

Raju vehemently opposed and submitted that they had evidence against him and he was involved in the matter. The ED also told the Court that Soren was arrested before the elections began, and hence question of interim bail on the ground of on going elections does not arise.

Court asked Sibal, "Are you in possession of the land?... Because I read it somewhere that you were in possession from 2019...boundary wall was constructed, number of entries in the land and photographs and number three somebody came up and said this land belongs to me and it was done very fast."

Sibal submitted, "I do not have possession of the land."

Sibal requested the Court that due to elections it is urgent to hear the matter. To which the Court replied, "Mr. Sibal we have to be prima facie satisfied that there is some issue, then only we will be able to say."

The Court on May 13, 2024 had issued a notice in the petition filed by the Soren. Sibal had strongly requested for a shorter date and interim bail, and said, "Now the election is over...great injustice is done to him...Kejriwal's order covers me."

Former Chief Minister Hemant Soren had moved the Supreme Court on May 6, 2024, against the Jharkhand High Court order dismissing his application challenging his arrest by the ED in a money laundering case linked to an alleged land scam.

Soren was arrested on January 31 after he resigned as the Jharkhand chief minister, and party loyalist and state transport minister Champai Soren was named as his successor. He is at present lodged in judicial custody at the Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi and was sent to jail on February 15 after his 13-day ED custody ended.

The allegations of money laundering against the JMM leader pertain to the alleged illegal possession of certain immovable assets apart from his purported links with members of the 'land mafia'. The investigation is linked to a "huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia" in Jharkhand, according to the central probe agency.

Hemant Soren had also moved the Supreme Court, saying the High Court is not pronouncing the verdict on his plea challenging arrest by the Enforcement Directorate(ED) in a money laundering case. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal had said that the High Court had reserved its verdict on February 28 on his plea but still no decision has been delivered. Sibal said they had approached the Apex Court against his arrest on February 2 but the bench had asked them to move the High Court for relief.

On May 10, 2024, the Supreme Court had dismissed the petition for directions to the Jharkhand High Court to pronounce a verdict in the plea filed by the former Jharkhand Chief Minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren, as the verdict in the said case has been pronounced on May 3.

In February 2024 the Supreme Court had refused to entertain a plea by Soren challenging his arrest by the ED.

In December 2023 the Jharkhand High Court had also dismissed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) of an Advocate who alleged corruption by Soren. The Court had observed that the petition should be filed and entertained only when authorities do not take any action.

Cause Title: Hemant Soren v. Directorate of Enforcement and Anr. (SLP(Crl.) No. 6611/2024)