EC showcause to J’khand CM over getting mining lease

New Delhi: The Election Commission has issued notice to Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren asking him to explain why action should not be taken against him for having a mine lease issued in his favour, which prima facie violates Section 9A of the Representation of People Act 1951.

Last month the EC had also contacted the Chief Secretary, asking the Government to authenticate the documents related to mining lease allotment.

Top sources said the notice was issued after examining the documents which prima facie authenticate the grant of mining lease of 0.88 acres in Ranchi to Soren, who also happens to hold the mining portfolio.

The documents were sought by the EC after a reference was received by it from the Jharkhand Governor, seeking the EC’s opinion under Article 192 of the Constitution. The section 9A deals with the disqualification for Government contracts.

The issue of Soren, in his role as the Minister for mines, leasing land for mining to a company he himself owned came to light former Chief Minister Raghubar Das released at a Press conference documents to show that Soren obtained a lease of 0.88 acre in Angara block of Ranchi and a Letter of Intent was issued by Ranchi’s district mining office on June 16, 2021.

Governor Ramesh Bais had recently referred the matter to the ECI under Article 192 of the Constitution. The provision authorises the Governor to make a decision on disqualification of an elected member based on the EC’s opinion.

Under Article 191 of the Constitution, a member of a State Legislative Assembly can be disqualified under five provisions: Holding any office of profit, being of unsound mind, being insolvent, giving up citizenship of India or applying for the citizenship of a foreign country, or in accordance with a parliamentary statute.