Centre moves HC against AAP govt's FIR against Moily, others

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The Union Government has moved the Delhi High Court for quashing an FIR filed by the AAP government in Delhi against Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily and others for alleged irregularities in raising gas prices.

The writ petition, filed yesterday, contends that the Anti-Corruption branch of the Delhi Government has "no powers or jurisdiction to investigate" complaints against the Union Government's decision to fix prices of natural gas.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had directed the Anti Corruption branch to register an FIR on the basis of a complaint by four prominent people, including former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian. The complaint alleged that Moily, former Oil Minister Murli Deora and others had colluded with Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani to raise the price of natural gas at the cost of the common man.

The petition is expected to come up for hearing tomorrow.

Moily and Ambani have vehemently denied the allegations. Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) last week had moved the Delhi High Court for quashing of the FIR.

In its petition, the Union Government argued that by registering the FIR the Delhi government was "seeking to investigate decisions in regard to gas price fixation which falls in the exclusive domain of the Central Government".

It said that the public order and police have been specifically excluded from the domain of the legislative assembly of the Delhi Government.

"The Delhi Government lacks any powers of its own in the area of police powers and matters relating to law and order," it said adding any agency (like the anti-corruption bureau) created by the state government cannot have higher powers or purport to seek to exercise any higher powers.

All aspects relating to natural gas are within the exclusive legislative powers of the Union Parliament and consequently executive powers of the Government of India.

It also stated that at the time the complaint was filed, a writ filed by CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta on the said issue was pending before the Supreme Court.

The Union Government, it said, was not going into the merits of the allegation as the issue was pending before the Supreme Court and its petition was seeking to declare that the Anti-Corruption Bureau has no jurisdiction in regard to employees/public servants of the central government and to quash the FIR.

The petition said the decision to revise gas prices with effect from April 1 was taken by the Union Cabinet based on a formula suggested an expert panel headed by Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council Chairman C Rangarajan.

The new rates, which would be almost double of current price of USD 4.2, will apply to all domestic producers like state-owned ONGC as well as private sector RIL, which makes up for only 15 per cent of the total domestic output.

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