New Delhi: The Supreme Court agreed to hear on Thursday two separate pleas of the Jharkhand government and Chief Minister Hemant Soren against a high court order that had accepted the maintainability of a PIL for a probe against the JMM leader into alleged irregularities in the grant of mining leases.
A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli took note of the submissions made by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared in the court on behalf of the Jharkhand government, that the matters need an urgent hearing and they have not been listed so far, despite an assurance given by the court on July 18.
"We will list these for hearing tomorrow (July 28)," the bench said.
The pleas were mentioned for urgent hearings on July 18 by Sibal and another senior advocate, Meenakshi Arora, who appeared in the matter on behalf of Soren.
On June 17, the apex court had refused to pass any interim direction on an appeal filed by the Jharkhand government, challenging the high court order that had accepted the maintainability of a plea seeking a probe against the chief minister in mining cases.
"Let the high court decide the matter. The issue cannot be entertained piecemeal," a vacation bench of justices J K Maheshwari and Hima Kohli had said.
The top court had posted the matter for hearing before an appropriate bench after the summer vacation on the request of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi.
It was submitted that the case against Soren was politically motivated to destabilise the Jharkhand government. The plea before the Jharkhand High Court had sought a probe into alleged irregularities in the grant of mining leases as also into the transactions of certain shell companies allegedly operated by the chief minister's family members and associates.
The high court had accepted the maintainability of the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition seeking a probe against Soren. On June 3, the high court had said it was of the considered opinion that the writ petitions cannot be thrown away on the ground of maintainability and it will proceed to hear the matters on merit.
In its June 3 order, a division bench of the high court had said, "This court, after having answered the issue, as framed by this court, and on the basis of discussions made hereinabove, is summing up its view and is of the considered opinion that the writ petitions cannot be thrown away on the ground of maintainability."
On May 24, the apex court had asked the high court to first hear the preliminary objections to the maintainability of the PIL seeking a probe in the matter.
"The issue of maintainability should be dealt with by the high court on the next date of listing when the proceedings are taken up. Based on the outcome of the objections to the maintainability of the proceedings, the high court may thereafter proceed in accordance with the law," the apex court had said.
It had passed the May 24 order on a petition filed by the state against two high court orders in the matter.
The top court also made it clear that it has not made any observation concerning the merit of the case and not dealt with the allegations levelled in the petition.
It noted that three PILs have been filed before the high court seeking an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the allegations of corruption, misuse of office and money laundering against Soren.
The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader has denied the allegations levelled against him.
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