Home >Politics >Policy >Anti-corruption branch can’t probe KG gas pricing: Delhi govt

New Delhi: The Delhi government on Tuesday informed the Delhi high court that following a notification issued by the central government, the state’s anti-corruption branch (ACB) had no jurisdiction to investigate cases such as the one involving fixing the price of gas produced from the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin.

Delhi government counsel senior advocate Vikas Singh informed justice V.K. Shali that there had been a change in its position due to a notification issued by the Union home ministry on 23 July, which limited the ACB’s powers. He also sought time to file a reply and place the notification on record.

During the short stint of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi, the ACB had filed a first information report (FIR) naming Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani, besides M. Veerappa Moily and Murli Deora, who were Union ministers in the United Progressive Alliance government. RIL and the Union government challenged the filing of FIRs.

The AAP government had asked the ACB to file the FIR after receiving complaints against RIL and the ministers from former cabinet secretary T.S.R. Subramanian, former navy chief R.H. Tahiliani, lawyer Kamini Jaiswal and former government secretary E.A.S. Sarma on the issue of pricing gas from RIL’s KG-D6 block. The complainants alleged “collusion" between the government and RIL to increase the prices that has “defrauded the public exchequer, have compromised public interest and has provided undue windfall benefits to RIL". The complaints also pointed out several “instances of undue benefits and abuse of position by public representatives/servants". RIL, which controls the D6 block in the KG basin, had denied the allegations, terming them “irresponsible". Moily, oil minister at the time the FIR was filed in February, also denied the allegation, saying the gas price had been decided on the basis of expert advice.

In its 23 July notification, the Union government said the guidelines issued by the Central Vigilance Commission over the jurisdiction of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the ACB of the government of National Capital Territory of Delhi “shall apply to the officers and employees of the government of National Capital". This keeps Union government officials out of the ACB’s purview.

Advocate and senior AAP leader Prashant Bhushan said: “This notification is illegal as it is against the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 which allows the local police of an area (in this case, the ACB) to investigate crimes that take place within its territory."

On 6 August, justice Manmohan recused himself from hearing the case, which was transferred to justice Shali. The matter has been listed for 16 October.

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