Kejriwal orders FIRs against Mukesh, Moily

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11KEJRIWADelhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday ordered registration of FIRs against Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani, Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily and former petroleum minister Murli Deora for conspiring to benefit RIL, leading to higher prices of natural gas.

The Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) of the Delhi government has registered FIRs against Ambani, Moily and Deora under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Former general manager of hydrocarbons, V K Sibal, and RIL have also been made accused in the case.

Kejriwal said the basis for the FIR were complaints against RIL and others by four eminent persons, former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian, former expenditure secretary E S Sharma, Admiral (Retd) R H Tahiliani and noted lawyer Kamini Jaiswal.

“The cost of production of one unit gas was less than $1, but as RIL got the contract of 17 years for gas production, it forced the government to revise the rate $2.3 per unit in 2010. It was revised again to $4, and now they have planned re-revise the rate to $8 per unit on April 1, 2014,” Kejriwal told reporters at a press conference.

He attacked the Congress and the opposition parties for not raising the issue, accusing them of being bribed by Reliance.

Kejriwal asked the UPA government to call off its order to revise natural gas prices on April 1, or further inflation would hit the country.

“The CNG prices will go up, which will lead to costly transportation and hike in prices of every commodity. Power tariff will go up, and fertilisers will become costlier, which will lead to a steep hike in prices of food items. The Centre must take back its decision till the probe is over,” he said. Kejriwal defended his government’s action, saying that the ACB had concurrent jurisdiction like the CBI for lodging FIRs.

Supreme Court lawyer Meera Bhatia said if the content of the complaint received by the ACB was strong enough, an FIR could be filed regardless of the parties involved in the alleged offence. “It is not a question of whether it is a decision (gas pricing) by the state government or the Centre, but whether it is an issue which calls for an action by the anti-graft wing,” she said.

Kejriwal also pointed fingers at Reliance, citing complaint letters, saying they were supposed to supply 80 million units of gas, but only 18 per cent of it was being supplied. They have created a fake crisis of natural gas in the country so that they could blackmail the government to revise the rates, he said.

“A company named NIKO, which is a partner of Reliance in gas basins, is selling natural gas to the neighbouring country of Bangladesh at $2.32 per unit. How it is possible that Reliance’s rates are much higher than its partners’?” he added.

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