New Delhi: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on Monday approached the Delhi high court seeking to quash a first information report (FIR) filed against it by Delhi’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) in relation to the Krishna Godavari (KG) basin.
RIL based its plea on a 4 August decision from a high court two-judge bench which backed a Union government notification that ACB wouldn’t have the power to probe central government officials.
The FIR in question dates back to Aam Aadmi Party’s 49-day stint at the government in 2014, when the ACB named Ambani and two Union ministers at the time—M. Veerappa Moily and Murli Deora—in relation to the issue of the price of gas extracted from the KG basin.
Lawyer Harish Salve, representing RIL, told the court that the high court decision settled the question about the ACB not having the jurisdiction to investigate central government officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He said the ACB wasn’t given the power to initiate action in these cases.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva on Monday issued notice to the Delhi government to file its response in the case. The court will hear the case next on 29 September.
Lawyer Rahul Mehra, representing the Aam Aadmi Party government, told the high court that it was going to appeal the 4 August decision, which confirmed the role of lieutenant governor as the administrative head of the national capital territory.
The FIRs were filed on 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 civil servant E.A.S. Sarma on the issue of pricing gas produced from RIL’s KG-D6 block. The complainants alleged “collusion" between the government and RIL to increase the price, defrauding the public exchequer and compromising public interest.
The Delhi government had asked ACB to file an FIR based on these complaints. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, in a July 2014 notification, clarified that ACB could not probe Union government officials, which sparked a dispute between the two governments.
The high court’s 4 August decision, however, came as a shot in the arm for the central government as it declared that the there was no need for the lieutenant governor to act solely on the advice of the Delhi assembly.