Gas pricing controversy: RIL moves Delhi high court for quashing of FIR
Terming the FIR by erstwhile AAP government on gas pricing as ‘motivated’ and a ‘political’ gimmick, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on Friday moved the Delhi high court seeking its quashing on the ground that the issue fell within the domain of the Centre and is well beyond the power of the state government.
A bench of Justice Manmohan has fixed the plea of RIL, which also challenges a 1993 notification according power to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Delhi administration, for hearing on 20 May.
‘The very act of registration of an FIR by the state government to inquire into the policy decision taken by the Union government is ultra-vires to the Constitution...and the respective field of their jurisdiction in the matters relating to the Legislation and Executive are clearly demarcated under the same. It is submitted that it does not permit encroachment by one authority upon the jurisdiction earmarked for another....any attempt by the state to inquire into the affairs of the Union (both on its legality or alleged criminality) is thus against the basic tenets of federal structure of Indian Constitution,’ the plea said.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government had lodged an FIR naming Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily, 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.
RIL, the Mukesh Ambani-led flagship company, in its plea, alleged the FIR was ‘motivated and malicious’ and was part of the ‘political gimmicking’ as the AAP, before and during the state election campaign, had made ‘false and frivolous’ allegations against the firm.
‘The entire exercise of filing the FIR by Respondent no. 1 (Delhi government) is motivated and malicious and same is evident from the fact that before and during the campaigning for the election..., the erstwhile ruling political party (AAP) has been raising false and frivolous allegations, which now forms part of impugned FIR ... it is completely motivated political exercise,’ it said.
RIL said that the FIR was lodged without jurisdiction and without authority of law and hence was ‘ultra virus to the Constitution’.
It also said that the ACB, which works under the state government, cannot probe the economic policy decision of the Union cabinet on the pricing issue of domestically produced gas, which falls under the union list.
As such the legislation and the notification, in exercise of which the FIR was registered, is clearly contrary to the constitutional federal structure and ex-facie bad in law, it said. ‘The present FIR, which relates to the guidelines for the pricing of the domestic gas, is clearly beyond jurisdiction and beyond the authority of the state or the government of a Union Territory,’ it said.
Citing the 1998 notification, the plea said the ACB, Delhi had ‘jurisdiction only in respect of corruption cases against the officers of Delhi administration. It obviously cannot have and does not have jurisdiction in respect of allegations against the decision of Union of India.’