The Jharkhand High Court on Monday allowed the amendment application filed by former Chief Minister Hemant Soren, challenging the power of arrest exercised against him by the Enforcement Directorate under Section 19 of the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002 in an alleged land scam case.
A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Shree Chandrashekhar and Justice Rajesh Kumar directed the central agency to lodge a comprehensive reply in the matter within two weeks and scheduled the case for hearing on February 27.
The Enforcement Directorate had opposed the amendment application, mentioning that it changes the whole scheme of the original petition. Additional Solicitor General SV Raju argued that the original petition was essentially focused on power to issue summons under Section 50 PMLA whereas the amendment application stressed on power of arrest under Section 19.
Appearing for Hemant Soren, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal contended that the Supreme Court vide its order dated February 2 had granted liberty to the former Chief Minister to seek amendment of his petition before the High Court. Taking into consideration the Senior Advocate’s submission, the bench allowed the amendment application.
During the proceedings, Kabil Sibal also urged the top court to expeditiously hear the matter on merits. He mentioned that in the process of filing objections to the amendment application, the Enforcement Directorate had already filed its reply on merits.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal stated that two weeks will be too long in a matter like this, when they are talking about liberty. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court was of the view that a formal notice must be issued to the agency and sufficient time must be granted for lodging a comprehensive counter affidavit.
Hemant Soren was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for alleged involvement in a significant land scam case in Jharkhand. The former Chief Minister is accused of being the primary beneficiary of fraudulently acquired land. The arrest by the Enforcement Directorate followed after Hemant Soren’s resignation as the Chief Minister.