The Delhi High Court was today informed by the city government that its Anti-Corruption Branch has the power to probe the case against RIL and former UPA ministers Veerappa Moily and Murli Deora relating to alleged irregularities in raising price of gas from the company's KG6 basin.
The submission was made before Justice V K Shali by senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Delhi government, who said that according to the clarification received from the Centre, the July 23, notification regarding ACB's powers will only have "prospective effect".
"That the Ministry of Home Affairs vide its communication dated September 30, 2014, has clarified that the (July 23) notification is prospective as notification issued by Government of India becomes effective from the date of its publication in the official gazette..," the affidavit submitted on behalf of Delhi government has said.
According to the July 23 notification, the Centre had said that the 1993 announcement permitting ACB to probe cases under Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act will only be applicable to officials of Delhi government.
The court said it will now hear the matter on October 28 on which date it will also hear the plea of Deora, who has moved a plea for quashing of the FIR lodged against him.
It also directed that no coercive action be taken against Deora.
Deora, in his plea filed through advocate Karthik Nayar, has also challenged the earlier notifications, including the one of 1993, by which ACB has been given the power and jurisdiction to probe cases under PC Act.
The Delhi government on August 19 had told the court that the July 23 notification takes away ACB's power to investigate central government employees in corruption cases.
It had said that it would file a reply as to what would be the effect of the notification on the cases currently being probed by ACB.
ACB had earlier asserted that it was well within its right to lodge the FIR against Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and others, including then Oil Minister Moily, for alleged irregularities in raising gas prices.
Meanwhile, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the complainants on whose complaint the then Aam Aadmi Party government had ordered registration of FIR, said that the court had only asked the company and the former ministers to cooperate with the investigation.
Apart from Deora's fresh petition, the court was also hearing the pleas of RIL and Centre seeking quashing of the FIR lodged against the company and the former ministers.
The then Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government had lodged the FIR naming then Petroleum Minister 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 RIL and others.
In 2004, the Centre had signed a long term gas supply agreements with NTPC and the private firm at the rate of USD 2.34 per mmBtu and later in 2007, the price of gas was fixed at USD 4.24 per mmBtu, ACB had said in its affidavit.
It had also said that later, the gas price, to be paid to the firms with effect from April 1, 2014, was again hiked to USD 8.4 per mmBtu by the then Oil minister and added that the cost incurred, however, is less than USD 1 per mmBtu.
Justice Manmohan, on August 6, had recused from hearing the case.
Earlier, the court had restrained ACB from taking any coercive action against the accused. It, however, had said that ACB can continue with its investigation into the matter.
The UPA-II government had also moved the court seeking quashing of the FIR, saying ACB of the Delhi Government has "no powers or jurisdiction to investigate" complaints against the Union Government's decision to fix prices of natural gas.
It had said that Delhi government should have approached CBI, as it is an appropriate agency for investigation of such cases.
The Union Government had said that it 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 ACB has no jurisdiction in regard to employees/public servants of the central government and to quash the FIR.