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No Further Adjournment in Shibu Soren’s Plea Against Lokpal Proceedings on Corruption Complaint: HC

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday made it clear that further adjournment shall not be granted on a petition by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren, who has challenged the proceedings initiated against him by the Lokpal on the basis of a complaint by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey.

During the hearing, a lawyer representing Soren said the filing advocate, Vaibhav Tomar, had sought an adjournment due to personal difficulties in appearing before the court. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Lokpal of India, opposed the request for adjournment.

Taking note that Soren’s counsel was not available and seeking adjournment, Justice Prathiba M Singh listed the matter for further hearing on February 8, 2023, and made it clear that no further adjournments shall be granted in the case.

In November, the Lokpal had told the high court that it is well within its rights to initiate an inquiry against Soren in his plea against the Lokpal’s notice in a disproportionate assets case directing a preliminary inquiry by CBI. A bench of Justice Yashwant Varma was told that the plea filed by Soren was “completely misconceived”.

Lokpal, 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 delay in filing the report of a preliminary inquiry being conducted by the CBI, the affidavit stated that various circumstances justify the grant of extension by the Lokpal.

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”, it stated.

Soren’s petition, filed through Advocate Vaibhav Tomar, alleged that the Lokpal order had been issued by taking cognizance of a politically motivated, frivolous, and misconceived complaint. The notice had directed a preliminary inquiry by the CBI under Section 20(1)(a) of the Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

The original complaint by Dubey alleged that Soren has “over a period of more than 10 years” amassed huge wealth, properties and assets by adopting unscrupulous and corrupt means in Jharkhand in his own name and in the names of his family members, including sons, daughters, daughter-in-law, friends and various companies in different districts of the state such as Ranchi, Dhanbad, and Dumka.

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