Lawyer in PILs against CM Soren arrested in Kolkata

RAJIV KUMAR, a lawyer representing a petitioner in two PILs related to a mining lease and allegations of shell companies and money laundering against Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, was arrested by Kolkata Police on Sunday on charges of allegedly duping people of money totalling Rs 50 lakh.

“We have arrested a lawyer, Rajiv Kumar, who is a resident of Ranchi,” said a senior officer of Kolkata Police.

Sources said the lawyer was arrested from a mall in central Kolkata following inputs from the police in Jharkhand, where “he faces several cases”.

Kumar was arrested by Kolkata Police’s anti-rowdy squad and officers from the Hare Street station, the sources said, adding that “some money” was also seized from him. The police are also looking for possible accomplices of Kumar, they said.

Known as “PIL man” in Jharkhand, Kumar had recently filed three PILs on behalf of a petitioner, Shiv Shankar Sharma. Two of the PILs were directed at Chief Minister Soren. One of them accused Soren of granting himself a mining lease while holding the Mining portfolio. The other stated that Soren was allegedly linked to shell companies and money laundering – these are currently being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Kumar is also the lawyer in a PIL that alleged financial irregularities in MGNREGA, leading to the ED arresting Jharkhand Mining Secretary Pooja Singhal and Soren’s aide Pankaj Mishra.

In the mining PIL filed in February this year, Kumar had filed an additional plea seeking protection while claiming that he had been threatened. Advocate General Rajeev Ranjan, however, had submitted that the plea was “frivolous” and filed to “scandalise” the Chief Minister.

During hearings, the senior counsel appearing for Jharkhand, Kapil Sibal, had argued on the legitimacy of the PIL as the petitioner Shiv Shankar Sharma’s father was a witness in a case against Shibu Soren, the former Chief Minister and father of Hemant Soren — this was not disclosed in the PIL. Counsel for Hemant Soren, Mukul Rohatgi, had described the PIL as “malafide”.

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Heman Soren, in his response to the mining PIL, had submitted that the allegations were similar to another petition filed by the BJP, and that “both are similar and the handiwork of the same person”.

Kumar had also filed a PIL with former BJP CM Raghubar Das, who was then a minister, as a party respondent in the so-called ‘Meinhardt scam’ related to allegations of irregularities in a consultancy contract. However, the PIL has not progressed further.

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