The Election Commission of India has received a letter written by the lawyer of the Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant seeking a copy of Governor Ramesh Bais’s request to it for a “relook” of its opinion on the mining case.
This was confirmed by a staff of the EC today. In fact, Soren’s lawyer had sent the letter on October 31 after Bais, in a TV interview, said he had sent the first EC letter for a second opinion to avoid prejudice.
Notably, in August, the EC had sent its opinion to the Governor on Soren’s possible disqualification over his ownership of a mining lease while being a mines minister cum chief minister.
Strangely, Governor Bais has not made the opinion public.
The letter, sent through the CM’s lawyer, stated: “The Hon’ble Governor has not communicated his decision in the reference, although more than two months have elapsed since the Commission tendered its opinion… (Soren) has now come to learn from media reports that recently, the Governor in a press interview given to the electronic and print media on October 27, 2022, disclosed that he has sought a second opinion from the Election Commission of India, which is pending before the Commission… (Soren) has not received any notice from the Commission in this regard.”
“… on behalf of my client, I call upon you to furnish to my client a copy of the request for opinion received by you from the Hon’ble Governor of Jharkhand,” the letter said. This move assumes importance as the Supreme Court may pass an order on November 7 on a plea filed by Soren challenging the maintainability of two PILs including the mining lease case. The Jharkhand High Court had passed an order in June saying that the petitions of shell companies and mining leases were maintained.
The EC had earlier said that any communication between the EC and a Governor is “privileged” under Article 192 (2) of the Constitution and revealing it before an order is passed by the Governor would amount to a “breach of constitutional propriety”.
CM Soren’s move seems to be to take legal action to defend himself and thereby fight a legal battle against the EC.