The high court here on Friday sought a response from the Delhi government on the Centre’s plea seeking quashing of a First Information Report (FIR) lodged by the previous Arvind Kejriwal government against Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily and others for alleged irregularities in raising gas prices. It restrained authorities from taking coercive action.
The judge, posting the hearing on May 20 after issuing a notice to the Delhi government to respond within a week, said Delhi’s anti-corruption branch (ACB) can continue investigating but will not take any coercive action against those named in the FIR.
The ACB had lodged the FIR in February on the direction of the then Delhi chief minister, Kejriwal. The court direction came on Friday on an oral submission made by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for private parties and requested there be no more investigation.
Kejriwal had directed the ACB to register an FIR on the basis of a complaint by prominent people, including former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian. The complaint alleged Moily, former oil minister Murli Deora and others had colluded with Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani to raise the price of natural gas. All of them have denied the allegations.
The Kejriwal-led Delhi government had lodged the FIR naming Moily, Mukesh Ambani and others on gas pricing issue and had alleged the Congress-led UPA government “favoured” RIL with an eye on 2014 general elections and BJP maintained “silence” hoping to gain corporate funding for the polls.
Appearing for Centre, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran sought quashing of the FIR saying Anti-Corruption branch of the Delhi Government has “no powers or jurisdiction to investigate” complaints against the Union Government’s decision to fix prices of natural gas.
He said that Delhi government should have approached CBI, as it is an appropriate agency for investigation of such cases.
“How can they (Delhi’s Anti Corruption Branch) go before the wrong authority. Let them go before proper forum. Why were they in such a hurry to register the case,” he argued.