The Supreme Court on Tuesday told the Jharkhand High Court to decide on the maintainability of a plea seeking inquiry against Chief Minister Hemant Soren by the Central Bureau of Investigation or the Enforcement Directorate for alleged irregularity in granting of a mining lease, Live Law reported.
On February 16, a person named Shiv Kumar Sharma had filed a public interest litigation in the High Court, seeking investigation by central agencies into the lease of a piece of land obtained by the chief minister himself, the Hindustan Times reported.
Sharma also sought directions to disqualify Soren – who handles the mining department – from the state Assembly.
The Jharkhand government had moved the Supreme Court after the High Court, on May 13, accepted documents submitted by the Enforcement Directorate in a sealed cover despite the state’s objections.
At Tuesday’s hearing in the Supreme Court, a vacation bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Bela M Trivedi noted that the High Court order had also mentioned that it will first hear objections to the maintainability of the petition before proceeding with the merits of the case.
“We direct that the issue as to maintainability should be dealt by the HC on the next date of listing,” the bench said. “Based on the outcome of the objections to the maintainability of the proceedings, the HC may thereafter proceed in accordance with law.”
In an affidavit, Soren has claimed that the land parcel was granted to him for a period of 10 years on May 17, 2008, when he did not hold any position in the state Cabinet. Soren said he had applied for renewal of the mining lease in 2018, but the application lapsed. He was finally granted the lease when he applied again in 2021, the chief minister said.
He submitted that he had not made any profits from the plot of the land.