The Delhi High Court on Friday, heard an application filed by Member of Lok Sabha from Godda, Jharkhand Nishikant Dubey against a stay order passed in favour of JMM president and Rajya Sabha MP Shibu Soren in connection lokpal proceedings initiated against him.
A single judge bench of Justice Yashwant Varma has asked Soren to respond to the application within two weeks and listed the matter for hearing on November 10.
The application states that the petitioner (Soren) had mislead the court by filing the writ petition before the High court. The HC in its September 12 order had noted arguments of the petitioner which reads, “It is pointed out by…senior counsel appearing for the petitioner, that barring two instances, all other allegations would fall foul of the injunct placed by Section 53. Insofar as the two other instances are concerned, those properties are not stated to have been acquired or held by the petitioner.” The Lokpal had directed a preliminary inquiry under provisions of the Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act, 2013, and called for an inquiry report from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The applicant has challenged this statement of the petitioner claiming the two properties were acquired in the name of the petitioner’s family members. The application states that the said properties are included in the list of properties as part of the preliminary report issued by the CBI in July 2021. The application further argues that the burden is upon the petitioner to prove that the excess wealth acquired by him is not from any unscrupulous and dishonest means.
On September 12, the HC had stayed the proceedings initiated by Lokpal of India against Soren on the basis of a complaint alleging he has amassed huge wealth and assets by “adopting unscrupulous and corrupt means” in Jharkhand. The court had said that the matter requires consideration and till the next date of listing, there shall be a “stay of further proceedings pending before” the Lokpal. The court listed the matter for hearing on December 14. Shibu Soren said the Lokpal has taken cognisance of a “politically motivated, frivolous and misconceived Complaint” dated August 5, 2020, filed by Dubey.
It was argued before the HC by Soren that Lokpal could not have taken cognisance of the complaint as the same itself records that except for the properties of the JMM, none of the properties was acquired within seven years of the date of the complaint. The law bars Lokpal from inquiring or investigating “into any complaint if the Complaint is made after the expiry of a period of 7 years from the date on. which the offence mentioned in such Complaint is alleged to have been committed”, the court was told.
“In the list of assets filed with the Complaint on the basis of which the impugned proceedings have been registered, the date of alleged acquisition of the properties by the Petitioner range from the years 1990 till 2009 and the latest alleged acquisition is of 20.07.2009, which would show that the alleged offence, if at all, forming the subject matter of the Complaint is hopelessly barred by limitation and beyond the jurisdiction of the [Lokpal] under Section 53 of the Lokpal & Lokayuktas Act, 2013,” read the petition.
Soren said the allegations against him are “ex facie malicious, false, baseless and frivolous” and no instance of a single specified purported act of corruption is alleged in the complaint. The complaint is devoid of any particulars and is “rambling yarn spun” by a “disgruntled and unsuccessful political opponent” of his and the party which has formed government in Jharkhand after the 2019 assembly elections, he said in the petition.