Mining case: Soren writes to EC, seeks copy of second opinion sought by Governor

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has asked the Election Commission (EC) for a copy of Governor Ramesh Bais’s request to the poll panel for a relook of its opinion on the mining case.

Soren sent the letter on October 31 after Bais, in a TV interview, said he had sent the first EC letter for a second opinion to avoid prejudice. In August, the EC had sent its opinion to the Governor on Soren’s possible disqualification over his ownership of a mining lease while being a mines minister.

The Governor has not made the opinion public.

The letter, sent through the CM’s lawyer, stated: “The Hon’ble Governor has not communicated his decision in the reference, although more than two months have elapsed since the Commission tendered its opinion… (Soren) has now come to learn from media reports that recently, the Governor in a press interview given to the electronic and print media on October 27, 2022, disclosed that he has sought a second opinion from the Election Commission of India, which is pending before the Commission… (Soren) has not received any notice from the Commission in this regard.”

“…on behalf of my client, I call upon you to furnish to my client a copy of the request for opinion received by you from the Hon’ble Governor of Jharkhand,” the letter said. This move assumes importance as the Supreme Court may pass an order on November 7 on a plea filed by Soren challenging the maintainability of two PILs including the mining lease case. The Jharkhand High Court had passed an order in June saying that the petitions of shell companies and mining lease were maintained.

The EC had earlier said that any communication between the EC and a Governor is “privileged” under Article 192 (2) of the Constitution and revealing it before an order is passed by the Governor would amount to “breach of constitutional propriety”.

Meanwhile, the BJP Sunday sought an apology from Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren for alleging that an officer of the Income Tax department went to conduct a raid on a vehicle provided by the opposition party in the state.

Screening a video clip of the purported owner of the vehicle at the party’s state headquarters here, the BJP claimed that the chief minister made the comment without checking facts.

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