ACB asking for docs not pertaining to gas fixation, Reliance Industries tells HC
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has informed the Delhi High Court that the state government's ACB, investigating the company and others for alleged irregularities in raising the price of gas from KG-6 basin, was asking for documents which do not pertain to the issue.
RIL has claimed in an affidavit placed before Justice Siddharth Mridul that the thousands of pages of documents sought by the Delhi government's Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) "do not pertain to the issue of fixation of price of gas".
The submissions were made by the company in response to the court''s direction on April 12 to give details of a number of times RIL officials were summoned and the particulars of documents sought by ACB.
The court had asked for the details after RIL had alleged that ACB has been summoning its top officials merely few days before the hearing in the high court, to harass them. It had also alleged that they were just being made to sit there and nothing was being asked to them.
Besides the company, erstwhile UPA ministers M Veerappa Moily and Murli Deora (since dead), RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani, former Director General of Hydrocarbons V K Sibal and other unidentified persons are named in the ACB FIR, which has also been challenged by the central government.
The issue of ACB's jurisdiction to probe such matters is pending before a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.
The high court in a August 4, 2016 judgement had held that the powers of the ACB were limited to probing graft cases in various departments under the administrative authority of the LG, but not extending to central government employees.
The Delhi government had earlier opposed the stay application, saying the high court had granted them relief that no coercive step would be taken by the ACB. It said if the stay was granted, it would also hamper the probe in other cases relating to central government employees.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had earlier asked the ACB to lodge an FIR in the matter.
The FIR was lodged by the ACB on the complaint alleging the irregularities sent to the chief minister by former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian, former secretary EAS Sarma, former navy chief R H Tahiliani and advocate Kamini Jaiswal.
The UPA-II government had moved the court for quashing of the FIR, saying the ACB of the Delhi government had "no power or jurisdiction to investigate" complaints against the union government''s decision to fix prices of natural gas.
The FIR was lodged under provisions for cheating and criminal conspiracy of the IPC and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. All the accused have denied the allegations.
The complaint had alleged that the impact of gas price rise would cost the country a minimum of Rs 54,500 crore per year at the dollar price then.