The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Enforcement Directorate seeking its response to a plea moved by former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren challenging his arrest in a money laundering case, Live Law reported.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta asked the agency to file a counter affidavit and posted the matter for hearing next week.

Soren has been in jail since January 31, when he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a money-laundering case. This was shortly after he resigned as the chief minister after being questioned by the central law enforcement agency.

On April 24, the former chief minister filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate.

On Monday, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibbal pressed for interim bail, stating that the chargesheet filed by the central agency only mentions cheating and forgery and not money laundering, reported the Hindustan Times.

The bench responded by saying that the chargesheet mentions the proceeds of crime relating to large parcels of land and that the agency has claimed it was collating information about the alleged transactions.

Sibal said that Soren’s bail plea should also be considered as the Jharkhand High Court was yet to decide on the petition challenging Soren’s arrest on money laundering charges in connection with the land scam.

The Supreme Court then stated that the High Court was free to pronounce its judgement on the matter. The High Court had reserved its verdict on February 28.

Soren has claimed that his prosecution and arrest are politically motivated by “extraneous considerations and are part of a well-orchestrated conspiracy by the Central government to browbeat, intimidate and humiliate the prominent Opposition leaders”.

He also alleged that the Centre was using his arrest to coerce him into joining the Hindutva party or ally with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.

The chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate on March 30 named Soren, Bhanu Pratap Prasad, Raj Kumar Pahan, Hilariyas Kachhap and Binod Singh as the accused persons in an alleged land scam. The agency has also attached 8.86 acres of land allegedly owned by Soren.

According to the Enforcement Directorate, Soren acquired the land located at Baragain Anchal at Bariyatu Road in Ranchi through illegal means. The agency has also accused Soren of misusing his power and influencing false evidence in the case after he was issued the first summons for questioning on August 7.

The former chief minister has denied allegations made by the central agency.