The Delhi government told the high court in New Delhi that the “probe has stalled” in the FIR against RIL and others, including two UPA ministers, for alleged irregularities in raising gas prices after a 2014 HC order that no coercive steps be taken in the matter. It also submitted before Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that the 2014 order would “enure to the benefit” of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) which was seeking quashing of the FIR on the ground that the ACB does not have the power to probe central government officials.
The Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) of the city government had lodged the FIR against the company, then UPA ministers M Veerappa Moily and Murli Deora (since dead), RIL’s Chairman Mukesh Ambani, former director general of hydrocarbons V K Sibal and some others for alleged irregularities in raising price of gas from KG-6 basin. All of them had denied the allegations. RIL argued before the court on Friday that a division bench of the high court had on August 4 last year ruled that the ACB has no power to probe central government employees and thus, its plea for quashing the FIR be allowed.
It said that since the FIR was continuing, ACB officials were asking the company to appear before them. Denying the claims, the Delhi government said that “at present the probe in the matter has stalled and nothing is happening”. It also said that its special leave petition (SLP) against the high court’s August 4, 2016 decision is pending before a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court. The city government said no prejudice would be caused if RIL and the Centre’s pleas against the FIR are kept pending till the apex court decides the SLP. After hearing the brief arguments, the judge listed the matter for consideration on July 25.
The FIR was lodged by the 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 R H Tahiliani and advocate Kamini Jaiswal. The FIR was lodged under sections for cheating and criminal conspiracy of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The complaint had alleged that impact of gas price rise would cost the country a minimum of Rs 54,500 crore per year at the dollar price then.