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Delhi's anti-graft wing can't probe gas price issue: Prosecution

Posted on Aug 19 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Aug 19 : The anti-graft wing of the Delhi government no longer has the powers to probe the Reliance Industries gas pricing issue after a recent notification by the central government, the prosecution told the Delhi High Court Tuesday.

As per a clause in the notification issued July 23, the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) will not have the jurisdiction to investigate central government employees in graft cases. It can only probe matters related to the employees of the state government.

Appearing for the Delhi government, senior advocate Vikas Singh said that a fresh affidavit will be filed in the court in this regard, along with a copy of the central government's notification.

The matter pertains to an approval in January by the cabinet of the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, presided over by then prime minister Manmohan Singh, to double the price of gas extracted by Reliance Industries 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 the new price for gas produced by companies, such as Reliance, till the elections were over.

After assuming power in Delhi, the Arvind Kejriwal government of the Aam Aadmi Party ordered the probe into the issue by the anti-graft wing. The charges named former oil minister M. Veerappa Moily, Reliance chief Mukesh Ambani, former oil minister Murli Deora, and former oil regulator V.K. Sibal as co-conspirators.

When this was challenged on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction, the anti-graft wing filed an affidavit in the court saying such a step was well within its mandate as the alleged offence was committed in the National Capital Territory.

The court would hear the plea next on Oct 16.

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