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Hemant Soren (Former Jharkhand CM) Withdraws Petition on Budget Session Attendance on April 1

Supreme Court Keeps Legal Question Open; Hemant Soren’s Arrest Linked to Money Laundering Case

Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren withdrew his petition challenging the Jharkhand High Court’s decision denying his request to attend the Budget Session, scheduled for February 23. The Supreme Court allowed the withdrawal while leaving open the legal question regarding whether a legislator in custody retains the right to attend assembly sessions.

Represented by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, Soren cited the conclusion of the assembly session and requested to keep the legal question unresolved.

Justices Surya Kant and KV Viswanathan agreed to this request and issued an order stating, “The Special Leave petition is dismissed as withdrawn. However, the legal question remains unresolved.

Soren was taken into custody on January 31 in relation to a money laundering case associated with an alleged land scam investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Following his denial of permission to attend the budget session by a special PMLA court in Ranchi on February 21, he sought relief from the High Court.

The High Court, in its ruling, differentiated between Article 19(1)(a) and Articles 105 and 194 of the Indian Constitution. It emphasized that the right to speech under Article 19(1)(a) is distinct from the privileges and immunities granted under Articles 105 and 194, pertaining to speech on the floor of parliament or legislative assemblies.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal argued before the High Court that since Soren had not been charge-sheeted and had previously served as the CM, there was no legal impediment to his participation in the Budget session.

However, the Additional Solicitor General of India, SV Raju, representing the ED, contended that Soren’s participation could be refused regardless of his charge-sheet status or custody, as it was acknowledged by Sibal that Soren did not possess a fundamental right to attend the session.

The High Court concluded that Soren, due to pending legal proceedings against him, had not acquired any vested right to participate in legislative proceedings. Referring to legal precedent, the Court stated that a detained individual, under a valid custody order, forfeits the right to engage in legislative business.

The case, titled HEMANT SOREN versus DIRECTORATE OF ENFORCEMENT, was registered as SLP(Crl) No. 4004/2024.

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