Hearing on Legality of Kejriwal Probe into Gas Pricing Friday
The Delhi High Court is scheduled to hear Friday a petition by the union government seeking a restraining order on the anti-corruption wing of the Delhi government from probing a decision on the fixation of price for Reliance gas.
The petition seeks to submit that the anti-graft wing has no jurisdiction to probe the subject given the limited constitutional powers afforded to the state government, while also wanting the charges filed with the police to be turned down accordingly.
The probe was ordered by the state government when Arvind Kejriwal was chief minister in the Aam Aadmi Party regime. The charges filed by the probe wing name Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, former oil minister Murli Deora and former oil regulator V.K. Sibal as co-conspirators.
The petition, filed on behalf of the union government by Standing Counsel B.V. Niren, says that Kejriwal, as chief minister, exceeded his brief by calling for a probe. It also prays for quashing the first information report filed following the probe order.
The petition further says that when the Delhi government itself has limited powers, no agency set up by it can have higher authority, since law and order, police and related matters in Delhi are exclusively conferred upon the central government.
The petition has also sought to draw attention to the fact that as far as the matter pertaining to the actual decision on gas pricing is concerned, the Supreme Court is already hearing two petitions -- by lawmaker Gurudas Dasgupta and NGO Common Cause.
In fact, the court of Justice Manmohan is also hearing a similar petition filed by Reliance Industries.
Ordering the probe, Kejriwal had argued that since the decision on gas pricing, which he alleged was taken solely to benefit Reliance Industries for extraneous reasons, was taken in the national capital, his government had the authority to order a probe.
The matter pertains to an approval by the cabinet to double the price of gas extracted by Reliance from $4.2 per unit based on a formula suggested by a committed headed by C. Rangarajan Committee, chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council.
But the Election Commission, in an order last month, asked the central government to defer announcing the new price of natural gas produced by companies such as Reliance, and wait for the general election to be over.