[Disproportionate Assets Case] Delhi High Court to hear JMM President Shibu Soren’s plea on March 29

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The present petition has been filed challenging Lokpal's notice issued in view of a complaint filed alleging that Soren was involved in a disproportionate asset case.

In the plea pertaining to Lokpal's notice to Jharkhand Mukti Morcha President Shibu Soren, during the hearing on Wednesday, Solicitor General of India (SGI) Tushar Mehra appeared for Lokpal of India and Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for Shibu Soren, before the Delhi High Court.

Sibal and SGI Mehta request for adjournment as they were engaged in the Constitution Bench matters before the Supreme Court.

Taking note of the submissions, Justice Prathiba. M. Singh posted the matter for further hearing on March 29.

It is to be noted that in November, the Lokpal of India informed the High Court that it is well within its rights to initiate an inquiry against Jharkhand Mukti Morcha President Shibu Soren in his plea against the Lokpal's notice in a disproportionate asset case directing for a preliminary inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation. 

The Lokpal's notice was issued on a complaint filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Member of Lok Sabha Nishikant Dubey.

Lokpal of India in its affidavit submitted that "such an inquiry is initiated only to ascertain whether there exists a prima facie case for proceeding in the matter. Therefore, a direction to conduct a preliminary inquiry is not a determination of the merits of a complaint and does not prejudice the public servant concerned in any manner."

Over the issue of delay in filing the report of a preliminary inquiry being conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation, the affidavit stated, "Various circumstances justify the grant of extensions by the Lokpal of India". 

"In view of the above the Lokpal of India was fully justified in granting extensions from time to time to the CBI after reviewing the status of the preliminary inquiry and taking into account the totality of the circumstances," the affidavit added.

The petition filed by Soren through Advocate Vaibhav Tomar alleged that the concerned order had been issued by taking cognizance of a politically motivated, frivolous, and misconceived complaint. Notice had directed a Preliminary Inquiry to be conducted by CBI under Section 20(1)(a) of the Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act, 2013 in view of a disproportionate asset case.

The plea alleged that the Lokpal of India acted on a mischievous, false, frivolous, and motivated complaint alleging that Soren has "over a period of more than 10 years" amassed huge wealth, properties, and assets by adopting unscrupulous and corrupt means in the State of Jharkhand in his own name and in the names of his family members including sons, daughters, daughter-in-law, friends and various companies in various districts of Jharkhand, such as Ranchi, Dhanbad, and Dumka, etc.

Additionally, the plea submitted that the Lokpal of India under the precincts of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 could not have taken cognizance of the complaint as the complaint itself recorded that the properties listed at 1 and 2 admittedly belong to Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (a registered political party), and none of the properties were acquired within 7 years of the date of the complaint.

Case Title: Shibu Soren v. Lokpal of India & Anr.

Statue: The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013