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HC grants time to Centre to clarify on ACB’s power

The Delhi High Court today granted the Centre time till December 4 to clarify if its notification on powers of city government’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) to probe graft cases has prospective or retrospective effect.

The July 23 notification of the Centre has limited the powers of ACB to probe corruption cases to the extent that it can investigate only city government officials and not those of the Union government.

It is of significance as the then Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government had lodged an FIR naming UPA ministers Veerappa Moily and Murli Deora, RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani and others in relation to alleged irregularities in raising price of gas from the company’s KG6 basin.

The Delhi government had also alleged that Congress-led UPA government “favoured” RIL with an eye on the 2014 general elections and BJP maintained “silence” hoping to gain corporate funding for the polls. The charges have been denied by RIL and others.

Justice V K Shali has listed the matter for further hearing on December 4 after the Centre submitted before the court that the Law Ministry is in the process to determine whether the July 23 notification will have prospective or retrospective effect and it will take time.

The court also said that its interim order restraining ACB from taking any coercive action against the accused in the case shall continue to operate.

The Delhi government contended that the entire process has been completed as they had received a clarification from the Ministry of Home Affairs on September 30, 2014, that the notification will have prospective effect.

It also said that waiting for further clarification will only delay the investigation.

It also said that the people named in the FIR should be directed to cooperate with the investigation.

The court was hearing pleas filed by the Centre, RIL and Deora challenging the FIR lodged by the Delhi government.

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