Delhi anti-graft agency says Reliance gas probe valid
The anti-graft wing of the Delhi government has filed an affidavit in the high court saying it has jurisdiction to lodge a report against Reliance Industries and former petroleum minister M. Veerappa Moily, among others, in the gas pricing issue.
The matter pertains to an approval by the cabinet of the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in January to double the price of gas extracted by Reliance from USD 4.2 per unit.
The decision was based on a formula suggested by a committee headed by C. Rangarajan, then chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council.
But before the decision could be notified, the Election Commission asked the central government to defer announcing new price for gas produced by companies such as Reliance till elections were over.
Delhi's Anti-Corruption Bureau said in its affidavit that since it had sought to state that the alleged offence was committed in the capiotal, it had valid jurisdiction to probe the case.
It had moved the Delhi High Court seeking a dismissal of the plea filed by Reliance that had asked to quash a report against itself, filed by the bureau.
The federal government and the company had both moved the court, seeking a restraining order on the bureau from probing a decision taken on the fixation of price for Reliance gas.
The anti-graft agency said it was a misconceived plea of the firm that gas falls under the Union List of the Constitution and that a state probe machinery cannot deal with such cases.
The jurisdiction has to be judged on the basis of where the alleged act has taken place, said the affidavit filed by Kailash Chandra, secretary-cum-director of the state's vigilance department.
The bureau also quoted a Supreme Court order that is said to have concluded that the registration of a report was mandatory under the criminal code if it pertained to a disclosure of alleged cognizable offence.
Earlier, the federal government and Reliance had contended that the anti-graft branch had no jurisdiction to investigate the subject as the constitution afforded it no such powers.
The probe was originally ordered by the Arvind Kejriwal government of the Aam Aadmi Party. The charges named Moily, Reliance chief Mukesh Ambani, former oil minister Murli Deora and former oil regulator V.K. Sibal as co-conspirators.
Ordering the probe, Kejriwal had argued that since the decision on gas pricing, which he alleged was to unduly benefit Reliance, was taken in the capital, his government had the authority to order a probe.
(Posted on 10-08-2014)