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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

Anti-graft branch has power to lodge FIR in gas pricing case, HC told

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 09, 2014
First Published: 23:45 IST(9/8/2014) | Last Updated: 23:49 IST(9/8/2014)

The anti-corruption branch of the Delhi government has told the Delhi High Court that it was well within its right to lodge an FIR against Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and others, including the then oil minister, for alleged irregularities in raising gas prices.

Seeking the dismissal of RIL’s plea for quashing of the FIR, the anti-corruption branch, in its affidavit, said it was an “absurd” and “misconceived” plea of the private firm that gas falls under the ‘Union list’ of the Constitution and the state probe machinery cannot deal with such cases.

“The jurisdiction of the answering respondent (anti-corruption branch) or the state police cannot be judged by subjects mentioned in the Union list (List I) or state list (List II) but has to be judged on the basis of situs of the alleged crime,” the affidavit read.

“The complaint disclosed commission of the offences in Delhi, and the anti-corruption branch - having jurisdiction over the National Capital Territory of Delhi - has validly exercised its jurisdiction to investigate. Once the commission of cognizable offence is made out in the complaint, it makes no difference as to who is the complainant,” the affidavit, filed by Kailash Chandra, secretary-cum-director of vigilance department, said.

The Kejriwal-led Delhi government had lodged the FIR naming the then petroleum minister Veerappa Moily, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani. It had alleged that the Congress-led UPA government “favoured” RIL with an eye on 2014 general elections and the BJP was “silent” hoping to gain corporate funding for the polls. All the charges had been denied by RIL and the other parties.

The anti-corruption branch, in its reply, has sought dismissal of RIL’s plea on various grounds - including that instead of filing a criminal writ petition, a civil one has been filed by the firm.

The ACB, which had received a complaint on February 10 from former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanium and others, said, “the complaint allege abuse of the official position by ministers and Central government officials...”

Justice Manmohan, on August 6, has recused from hearing the case and it will now come up for hearing before another bench on August 19.

Earlier, the court had restrained the ACB from taking any coercive action against the accused.

It, however, had said that ACB can continue with its investigation into the matter.


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