Free Press Journal

ACB has powers to lodge FIR in gas pricing case; Delhi HC told


New Delhi: The Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) of city 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 dismissal of RIL’s plea for quashing of the FIR, the ACB, in its affidavit, said that 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 (ACB) 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 complaint disclosed commission of the offences in Delhi, and ACB having jurisdiction over national capital territory of Delhi, has validly exercised the 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 and others on gas pricing issue and had alleged that 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. The charges had been denied by the RIL and others.

The ACB, in its reply, has sought dismissal of the 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…”.

Citing an apex court judgement, it said,”the registration of the FIR is mandatory under section 154 of the CrPC, if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary enquiry is permissible in such a situation.”