Lokpal to Delhi HC in Disproportionate Assets Case Against Shibu Soren

The Lokpal of India has informed the Delhi High Court that it is well within its rights to initiate an inquiry against Jharkhand Mukti Morcha president Shibu Soren in a disproportionate assets case.

Soren had moved a plea against the Lokpal’s notice in the case. His petition, filed through advocate Vaibhav Tomar, said the Lokpal order was issued by taking cognizance of a “politically motivated, frivolous, and misconceived complaint”. The notice had directed a preliminary inquiry into the disproportionate assets case by CBI under the Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

The notice was issued on a complaint lodged by BJP leader and Lok Sabha MP Nishikant Dubey. A bench of Justice Yashwant Varma was told that Soren’s plea was “completely misconceived”.

The Lokpal, in its affidavit, said “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 merit of a complaint and does not prejudice the public servant concerned in any manner”.

The affidavit also addressed the delay in filing a report of the preliminary inquiry by CBI, saying various circumstances justified the grant of extension 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 stated.

Dubey’s complaint 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 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 among others.

Soren’s plea, meanwhile, states 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 records 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 seven years of the date of the complaint.

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