M A I N   N E W S

Soren gets life term
* Faces another murder case
* Justice done: Jha’s family
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
A court in the Capital today sentenced JMM leader and former union minister Shibu Soren to life imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh upon him for his role in the murder of his private secretary Shashinath Jha way back in 1994.

Additional Sessions Judge B. R. Kedia also sentenced four other accused to life imprisonment.

The CBI argued for death sentence for Soren. Being a conspirator, the CBI said Soren deserved the same punishment as the actual murderer.

The counsel for the CBI mentioned the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, the terror attack on Parliament and the murder of the law student Priyadarshini Mattoo cases and contended that in all three cases the death penalty was awarded.

Last week, Soren was found guilty of abduction and murder of Shashinath Jha. The skeletal remains of Jha were found in Ranchi. The court was all set to pronounce the quantum of punishment last week but could not do so as Soren was moved to AIIMS after he complained of chest pain.

Meanwhile, Shashinath Jha's aged mother and daughter were disappointed that Soren had not been given the death penalty. At the same time, they felt justice seem to have been done after a long gap of 12 years.

Meanwhile, JMM leaders are gearing themselves to move ahead without Soren. Clearly, these second-rung leaders of the JMM are beginning to think that this might well bring down the curtain for Soren in the political arena.

JMM MP Hem Lal Murmu was forthright in observing that "once we get hold of the entire file of the judgement we can then come to a conclusion about the next course of action." The JMM has also ruled out any threat to the Madhu Koda government in Jharkhand.

The CBI had filed a chargesheet on November 10,1998, alleging that Jha was abducted on May 22, 1994, from Dhaula Kuan in South Delhi and later murdered in Ranchi as he had knowledge of the bribe paid to the then four JMM MPs, who voted against a no-confidence motion during the time of the P V Narasimha Rao government. The four MPs, including Soren, faced trial for bribery but were acquitted.

The court had held Soren guilty under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 360 (abduction) read with Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked for Soren's resignation immediately.

A disgraced Soren's troubles are not over. A Jharkhand court has ordered the authorities to produce Soren on December 21 in connection with another murder case.



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