Delhi’s anti-graft unit again claims powers to probe gas price issue

Sarkaritel
By Sarkaritel October 17, 2014 10:53

Delhi’s anti-graft unit again claims powers to probe gas price issue

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New Delhi, Oct 17  The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Delhi government Thursday told Delhi High Court that it has the powers to file 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 federal cabinet of the previous United Progressive Alliance government in January to double the price of gas extracted by Reliance Industries from $4.2 per unit.

Justice V.K. Shali was sought to be informed by the ACB that, as per the clarification from the central government on its notification issued by it July 23, the matter would have prospective effect.

As per the July 23 notification, as sought to be explained to the court, the ACB will have the jurisdiction to investigate only state government employees in graft cases.

The central government had said that the 1993 announcement permitted ACB to probe graft cases of Delhi government employees. But in its clarification Sep 30, it had said the relevant notification of July 23 will have only prospective effect.

Accordingly, the ACB claimed that since it had moved court earlier, it had the jurisdiction.

The affidavit submitted by the Delhi government said “the Ministry of Home Affairs vide its communication dated Sep 30, 2014 has clarified that the notification (July 23) is prospective, as (the) notification issued by the Government of India becomes effective (only) from the date of its publication in the official gazette, unless otherwise specified in the notification regarding its applicability.”

The gas pricing 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.

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.

Sarkaritel
By Sarkaritel October 17, 2014 10:53