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Gas pricing: AAP govt not entitled to lodge FIR, RIL tells HC

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New Delhi : Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today sought quashing of an FIR against it on alleged irregularities in raising the price of gas from KG 6 basin, telling Delhi High Court that the AAP government was “never entitled” to lodge an FIR against it.

Seeking quashing of the FIR lodged against it by the Anti-Corruption Branch of Delhi government in 2014, the company told Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that ACB did not have the jurisdiction to probe such matter.

“Delhi government was never entitled to lodge this FIR. This FIR has to be quashed as it has been lodged by a police station (ACB) which does not have the jurisdiction,” senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for RIL, told the court which sought the response of AAP government on the company’s plea.

Besides the company, erstwhile UPA ministers M Veerappa Moily and Murli Deora (since dead), RIL’s Chairman Mukesh Ambani, former Director General of Hydrocarbons V K Sibal and other unknown persons were named in the FIR lodged by ACB. All of them have denied the allegations.

During the day’s hearing, Salve contended that the then Chief Minister (Arvind Kejriwal during his first stint) had asked the ACB to lodge an FIR in the matter despite the fact that ACB did not have any jurisdiction to probe the matter.

He also referred to the August 4 judgement of the division bench of the High Court which had held that powers of the ACB were limited to probing graft cases in various departments which were under the administrative authority of LG and not extending to central government employees.

Delhi government’s senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra told the court that they were in the process of approaching the Supreme Court challenging the August 4 verdict.

“We are entitled to go to the Supreme Court. We are in the process,” he told the court and said the government would file its response on RIL’s plea.

The court then asked Mehra “what has happened in the FIR?”

In response, Mehra said “nothing has happended for the last two years” as the matter pertaining to powers of ACB was pending in the high court.

The court then posted the matter for further hearing on September 29.
Earlier, RIL had told the high court that the AAP

government’s decision to probe the Centre’s policy on gas pricing was “peculiar” and “absurd”.

RIL has challenged the then Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government’s decision to lodge an FIR in the matter.

Delhi government had earlier opposed RIL’s submission saying it was only investigating a criminal complaint and central government officials may come in the sweep of its probe.

The then UPA-II government had also moved the court for quashing of the FIR, saying ACB of Delhi government has “no powers or jurisdiction to investigate” complaints against the union government’s decision to fix prices of natural gas.

The FIR was lodged by ACB on a complaint sent to the Chief Minister by former Cabinet Secretary T S R Subramanian, former Secretary E A S Sarma, former Navy Chief Admiral R H Tahiliani and advocate Kamini Jaiswal.

The FIR was lodged under sections 420 (cheating), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The complaint, on the basis of which the FIR was lodged in 2014, alleged that impact of gas price rise would cost the country a minimum of Rs 54,500 crore per year at current dollar price.

PTI

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