Delhi govt FIR on KG gas price illegal: SG

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 5 2014, 11:20am hrs
Calling the FIR filed by Delhi government in connection with the KG Basin gas price ex facie illegal and without jurisdiction, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran said the Centre could resort to legal remedies, rather than advise Lt Governor of Delhi to treat it as non-est. Only courts can declare the FIR as illegal or non-est or void or set it aside, he said, in his opinion to the oil ministry on request.

Alternatively, the law officer said, the accused named in the FIR -- RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani, petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily and former minister Murli Deora and Director General of Hydrocarbons VK Sibal can approach the Supreme Court directly or the Delhi High Court for quashing of the FIR, citing violation of their fundamental rights.

Already the allegation is that the executive interfered in the matter for directing the registration of the FIR in great haste and the same allegation should again not be made now for closure of the FIR and, therefore, in my view, only legal remedies have to be resorted to as expeditiously as possible considering the fall out in the matter and also important constitutional implications which the matter has given rise to, Parasaran said.

Besides, he said that the Anti Corruption Branch of government of NCT of Delhi had no jurisdiction to register an FIR in the matter as the natural gas, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), is a Union subject covered by Entry 53 of List I and the Union has exclusive legislative competent to enact laws on natural gas, as held by the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court.

The appropriate agency that can investigate any offences subject matter of the complaint can only be the CBI.

The Constitution of India has clearly demarcated the powers and completely vested the jurisdiction over production of natural gas, including exploration and production of oil and gas and any policy decision taken to regulate natural gas or liquefied gas, with the Centre. Second, the question of revision of prices is a conscious policy decision taken by the Union government based on reports of experts and serious deliberations and, in this case, pursuant to the constitution of a High Powered Committee chaired by C Rangarajan, the revision in the gas prices are debated at the level of various ministries, the Planning Commission and after ascertaining the views of all concerned was placed before the CCEA which had approved the formula as recommended by the Rangarajan Committee, which consequently resulted in determination of the gas price at US$ 8.4 based on policy guidelines issued by Central government in January 2014, he said.