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ED 'fabricating evidence' against Hemant Soren: Kapil Sibal

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Former Jharkhand CM and JMM leader Hemant Soren being produced before a PMLA court following his arrest by Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials

Former Jharkhand CM and JMM leader Hemant Soren being produced before a PMLA court following his arrest by Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha MP and senior advocate Kapil Sibal on Sunday alleged that the Enforcement Directorate was "fabricating evidence" against former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren to "implicate" him in the case he has been arrested in.

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Soren was on Friday remanded to five days' ED custody by a special PMLA court in Ranchi in connection with a money laundering case linked to an alleged land fraud.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader was arrested on the night of January 31 after a seven-hour grilling by the ED in the case. He resigned as the chief minister before being arrested by the federal agency.

Sibal, who represented Soren in the Supreme Court seeking relief after his arrest, said, "What is happening in this country? There are no transactions, connection, telephone conversations or visits between Bhanu Pratap (tax department official arrested under ECIR by ED) and Hemant Soren. On what basis they (ED) have arrested Hemant Soren?" "They did not take Pratap in custody earlier because they wanted to take Hemant (Soren) into custody and then take a production warrant and make him (Pratap) say that 'Hemant is involved'," he said at a press conference here.

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Sibal said now Pratap would be taken into police custody and made to "implicate" Soren.

"You say that in April 2023 you knew Hemant was involved but you didn't do any questioning from Bhanu Pratap about it, didn't take him to police remand. Now they will take him in remand and implicate Hemant," Sibal said.

He said the ED was making a "criminal" a star witness in the matter.

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Asked if he was implying that the probe agency was creating evidence against Soren, Sibal said, "This is their job." "This is the kind of credibility that this organisation (ED) has, to try and implicate people, to destabilise governments and ensure sitting CMs are accused on the basis of fabricated evidence. This is the sad state of affairs in the country," the former Union minister said.

He alleged that the BJP wants to target opposition leaders, remove them from power and stop them from campaigning in the 2024 polls.

"They want to do politics of fear and misuse agencies to return to power," he alleged.

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Sibal said on Saturday that the Supreme Court ought to have heard the merits of the case of Soren's arrest by the ED before refusing to interfere in it and urged the court to lay down the criteria for when it should be approached by people.

He had alleged that Soren is being targeted as the BJP-led Centre "wants no opposition chief minister to continue in his post" and only "double-engine governments" everywhere.

In a setback to the JMM leader, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere with his arrest by the ED in the money laundering case and asked him to approach the high court instead.

A special bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna, M M Sundresh and Bela M Trivedi asked senior advocates Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi, appearing before them on behalf of Soren, to seek relief from the high court.

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