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Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren to appear before Election Commission today in office-of-profit case

Soren is in the midst of an office-of-profit row regarding a mining lease that he is accused of having awarded himself last year while holding charge of the state mining and environment departments.

June 28, 2022 / 10:05 AM IST
The cricket matches were held in March, in which Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren had also participated. (File image)

The cricket matches were held in March, in which Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren had also participated. (File image)

Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren will appear on June 28 before the Election Commission of India in person or through counsel in the office-of-the-profit allegations against him with regard to owning of stone mining lease, news agency ANI reported.

The poll panel had granted the chief minister last extension for appearance on June 14 and fixed June 28 for a personal hearing.

Soren is in the midst of an office-of-profit row regarding a mining lease that he is accused of having awarded himself last year while holding charge of the state mining and environment departments.

The poll panel had taken cognisance of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) complaint after the intervention of governor Ramesh Bais. The high court has issued a notice to Soren after a petition sought a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the allegation. The BJP wants Soren to be disqualified from the assembly for violating the Representation of the People Act. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Jharkhand’s ruling party, has, however, denied the allegations.

READ | Jharkhand CM Soren lands in office-of-profit row : All you need to know

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The poll panel had issued notice to Soren asking him to explain why action should not be taken against him for having a mining lease issued in his favour which "prima facie violates" provisions concerning the Representation of People's Act. He was asked to respond by May 10. However, the chief minister had on May 9 sought a four-week extension of time from the commission on the citing his mother’s health conditions.

Soren, in a letter addressed to secretary ECI, had denied all the charges against him. The Supreme Court last month directed Jharkhand High Court to decide on the maintainability of the public interest litigations seeking enquiry against Soren and others in relation to the grant of mining leases.

Enforcement Directorate (ED), through affidavit, had earlier submitted before Jharkhand High Court that during the course of the investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the secretary of the mining department Pooja Singhal had a role in the allotment of the mining lease to respondent number seven who happens to be CM Hemant Soren.

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Soren is respondent number 7 in the said Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by one Shiv Shankar Sharma seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe against Soren.

The BJP accused the chief minister, who also looks after the state’s mining and environment departments, of receiving undue benefits on account of his official position by granting himself a lease to mine stone chips in Ranchi’s Angara block in July last year. Soren’s application for a stone mining lease on plot number 482 was pending for 13 years and the district mining office in Ranchi granted it on July 10, 2021, the BJP alleged.

A BJP delegation met the Governor Ramesh Bais on February 11 accusing Soren of violating Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.  Bais, who wrote to the poll panel, had also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah to discuss the issue.

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Under the section, a person shall be disqualified if, and for so long as, there subsists a contract entered into by him in the course of his trade or business with the appropriate government for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any works undertaken by, that government.

(With ANI inputs)
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