A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act ( PMLA) court in Ranchi on Saturday allowed former chief minister Hemant Soren to be present in the state Assembly for the floor test of the Champai Soren government on February 5, even as the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) took the Jarkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader into five-day remand.
The ED officials took custody of Hemant from Ranchi central jail and shifted him to their zonal office for questioning. Soren would now be stationed at ED zonal office as the PMLA court rejected the former’s plea to shift him to central jail during the night in the course of the ED remand period.
Meanwhile, the direction allowing Soren to participate in the trust vote came after Advocate General Rajeev Ranjan moved a petition saying Soren is Barhet MLA and it is his constitutional duty to remain present in the Assembly during the floor test.
Before the court granted permission, senior counsel Zohaib, appearing on behalf of ED virtually from Delhi, opposed the petition in the presence of ED officials, saying it would be wrong to allow Soren to participate in the floor test as he is in five-day remand. He said the lower court has no power to grant such permission in this circumstance and this power is only with the high court.
ED lawyer cited Supreme Court judgement in B. Prasad Singh Vs Kali Singh case in 1977. He said the subordinate court has no power in this matter.
AG Ranjan countered the argument citing several rulings of the Jharkhand high court and the Supreme Court involving MLAs like Dhullu Mahto, Basant Rao, Sahabuddin and others. He said there will be nothing wrong if Soren is allowed to appear in the floor test to carry out his constitutional responsibility.
After a brief argument, the court allowed Soren’s petition. “What will be wrong if he participates in a floor test for an hour,” the bench verbally observed during the argument.
The court, however, did not allow the night stay of Hemant Soren away from ED custody. The court, which had reserved judgement in the petition moved yesterday, dismissed it, saying that during the five-day remand, he will be in the custody of ED.
Soren’s advocate Pradeep Chandra also said that the court directed Soren to maintain distance from the media during his appearance during the floor test.