Wed, 30 Nov 2022

New Delhi [India], October 7 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Friday asked Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Chief Shibu Soren to file a reply on a plea moved by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey challenging the stay order by the court granted in favour of the Soren in a Disproportionate Assets (DA) case.

On September 12, the High court stayed the proceedings before Lokpal against Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Chief and Rajyasabha MP Shibu Soren in a Disproportionate Assets (DA) case. These proceedings were initiated on the complaint filed by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey in August 2020.

Justice Yashwant Varma issued notice and granted two weeks' time to file a reply on the application moved by Dubey.

Senior advocate Arunabh Chaudhury and advocate Vaibhav Tomar appeared on behalf of Soren. They accepted the notice. The matter has been listed on November 10.

The plea on behalf of Dubey stated that there is enough evidence and material to show that the petitioner has amassed huge wealth and disproportionate assets beyond his known source of income.

It is also said that the court should not have come to the rescue of the petitioner at this stage where the Lokpal was in the process of examining and analysing the material before it, the plea contended.

The court had granted relief to Soren after hearing the submissions made by senior advocate Kapil Sibal on behalf of Shibu Soren. The court stayed the proceedings before Lokpal till the next date of hearing on December 14, 2022. The court has issued notice to the respondents.

The bench had noted the submission made by the senior advocate that the proceedings before Lokpal and order for preliminary inquiry by CBI are without jurisdiction in view of provisions of Lokayukta and Lokpal Act 2003.

The Court had also noted the submission that a reply to CBI was filed but that was not considered.

The Petitioner challenged the legality and validity of proceedings pending before Lokpal initiated on a complaint on August 5, 2020. It was stated that the proceedings registered under the Act are ex-facie bad in law and without jurisdiction.

The petitioner has also challenged the order passed by Lokpal on September 15, 2020, taking cognizance of the complaint and directing CBI to conduct a Preliminary Inquiry under Section 20(1)(a) of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 and to file a report before it.

The Petitioner further challenged the order on August 4, 2022, of Lokpal directing those proceedings under Section 20(3) of the Lokpal Act be initiated to determine whether a prima facie case exists to proceed against the Petitioner.

It is stated that this order has been made without considering the Petitioner's communication of April 1, 2022. Lokpal had passed a further order on August 25, 2022, on Petitioner's, prayer seeking adjournment, deferred the hearing for September 12, 2022, for making an appropriate order on merits on the basis of the material.

It has been contended that Lokpal under the precincts of the Lokpal and LokayuktasAct, 2013 could not have taken cognizance of the Complaint as the complaint itself records that none of the properties in question were acquired within 7 years of the date of the complaint.

"The allegations made against the Petitioner in the Complaint are ex-facie malicious, false, baseless and frivolous. No instance of even a single specific purported act of corruption is alleged in the complaint. The complaint is devoid of any particulars whatsoever and is a rambling yarn spun by the complaint, a disgruntled and unsuccessful political opponent of the Petitioner and his party which has formed the Government in the State of Jharkhand pursuant to the Assembly elections held in 2019," the petition filed by advocate Vaibhav Tomar said.

The petition has stated that in the list of assets filed with the complaint, the date of the alleged acquisition of the properties by the petitioner range from the years 1990 to 2009 and the latest alleged acquisition is on July 20 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 and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 which statutorily bars the 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 alleged to have been committed".

In view of the mandate of Section 53 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, the registration of the proceedings and the resultant impugned orders are bad in law and ex-facie without jurisdiction.

The Complainant by filing a false, frivolous and vexatious complaint is liable for prosecution and payment of compensation under Section 46 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013. (ANI)

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