SC ruling on MPs, MLAs: JMM's Sita Soren to face trial in horse trading case - Hindustan Times

After SC ruling on MPs-MLAs, JMM's Sita Soren to face trial in horse trading case

Mar 05, 2024 04:28 AM IST

The eldest daughter-in-law of JMM chief Shibu Soren would have to face trial before the special CBI court which is examining witnesses in the 2012 case.

The Supreme Court verdict overruling its majority judgment in the 1998 JMM bribery case that MPs/MLAs have immunity from prosecution for accepting bribes to cast a vote or make a speech in the House in a particular fashion has further multiplied the problems of the Shibu Soren family, which is already facing a slew of corruption cases.

JMM MLA Sita Soren. (PTI)
JMM MLA Sita Soren. (PTI)

Also Read | Vote-for-bribe: SC says no immunity for MPs and MLAs, overrules 1998 verdict

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In an immediate effect of the verdict, Sita Soren, the eldest daughter-in-law of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) president Shibu Soren, would now have to face trial before the special CBI court which is already examining witnesses in the 2012 horse trading case, people aware of the development said on Monday.

Sita, widow of late Durga Soren, eldest son of Shibu Soren, currently represents Jama seat in the Jharkhand assembly and is into her third term as legislator.

The fresh trouble for the Soren family comes close on the heels of action against former chief minister Hemant Soren, who was arrested by the directorate of enforcement (ED) on January 31 on money laundering charges related to an alleged land scam in the state capital being probed by the federal agency.

Also Read | SC strikes balance between graft charges, parliamentary privilege

Shibu Soren himself is facing a disproportionate assets case before Lokayukta on complaint filed by BJP parliamentarian Nishikant Dubey. The JMM chief had challenged the proceedings in the Delhi high court. However, the top court dismissed his petition refusing to interfere in the case.

Hemant Soren, who is currently in judicial custody, stepped down the same day he was arrested, and party vice-president Champai Soren took over the reins of the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance government last month. Hemant’s younger brother and Dumka legislator Basant Soren has joined Champai cabinet as a representative of the family in the government.

The JMM leaders, meanwhile, remained tightlipped over the SC verdict. “We would comment about all possible implications after we see the complete order,” said JMM spokesperson Manoj Pandey.

Also Read | PM Modi lauds SC's ‘great judgment’ overruling immunity to MPs, MLAs for bribery

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2013 registered the horse-trading case on a direction from the Jharkhand high court after the Election Commission of India (ECI) rescinded the original notification for the 2012 Rajya Sabha polls for the state.

Sita surrendered in the special CBI court of R K Choudhary on February 25, 2014, after the Jharkhand high court rejected her anticipatory bail with a direction to her to surrender within a week.

One of the six accused in the case, Sita was earlier declared absconder and her properties were attached in her residences at Ranchi and Bokaro on February 19, 2014, by the CBI. Later, the Jharkhand high court granted her bail on September 12, 2014.

Earlier, on June 3, 2013, the CBI had filed chargesheet in the special CBI court against six accused including Sita Soren, her father B Majhi, the then independent candidates and industrialists R K Agarwal and Pawan Kumar Dhoot and Dhoot’s agent Sunil Kumar Maheswari and one Rajendra Mandal.

The chargesheet accused the JMM MLA of taking 1.5 crore from Agarwal in lieu of casting her vote in his favour in the scraped 2012 Rajya Sabha elections and that her father allegedly had taken one crore rupees out of the booty before leaving home in Odisha.

People familiar with the matter in the JMM said three prosecution witnesses close to the legislator have already deposed before the court.

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