Updated January 30th, 2024 at 16:23 IST
Hemant Soren Under ED Scanner: Can a Sitting CM be Arrested? Rules, Process | Explained
There has been growing speculation that Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren might be arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). What does the law say?
Hemant Soren News: After being untraceable for over 30 hours, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief and CM Hemant Soren was seen coming out of his residence in Ranchi today. He chaired a meeting with ministers of his ruling coalition, pictures of which were released by his office on social media. On Monday, officials from the ED had visited Soren's residence in Delhi to question him. The central agency seized two cars and Rs 36 lakh but did not find the JMM leader. Following this, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey alleged that the Jharkhand CM was a "bhagoda" (on the run) and that there was a proposal to make Soren's wife Chief Minister of the state. Now, there has been growing speculation that Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren might be arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged land scam case.
Can Soren Be Taken Into Custody?
J Jayalalitha, the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, was the first sitting Chief Minister in India to face arrest in connection with the disproportionate assets case. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) detained her on December 7, 1996, leading to her imprisonment for a month.
Similarly, former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav resigned from his position after the issuance of an arrest warrant in connection with the fodder scandal. After his resignation, he transferred the Chief Minister's responsibilities to Rabri Devi and elected her as the leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s legislative party.
For the unversed, Article 361 of the Constitution extends immunity from civil and criminal proceedings only to the President of the Republic and Governors, offering protection until the completion of their tenure.
Does the CM Need to Resign After Arrest?
A Chief Minister can only be ousted from office after conviction in a case. In Jayalalithaa's episode, she served for three years before being found guilty in a disproportionate assets case, as reported by The Times of India. While there might be practical challenges for a chief minister under investigation, there is no legal prohibition preventing them from continuing to hold office during the inquiry.
What's Next for Soren?
If an individual ignores three summons from the Enforcement Directorate, the apex anti-money laundering agency has the authority to pursue a non-bailable warrant (NBW). Consequently, the person becomes obligated to appear before a court. Failure to comply with the NBW may result in the individual's arrest.
What Can Soren Do?
Soren has the option to approach a court to contest the summons, asserting his rights and seeking clarification on the allegations. If a non-bailable warrant (NBW) is issued, he can choose to seek anticipatory bail. Anticipatory bail serves as a legal safeguard, protecting against arrest while the investigation is ongoing.
Published January 30th, 2024 at 16:23 IST