The Delhi High Court today restrained the city government's Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) from taking any coercive action against Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily, Reliance Industries (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani and others named in an FIR over alleged irregularities in effecting natural gas price hikes.
Justice Manmohan, while issuing a notice to Delhi Government to respond in a week's time on Centre's plea seeking quashing of the FIR lodged in February on the direction of the previous Arvind Kejriwal government, said the ACB can continue with its investigation into the matter.
However, it will not take any coercive action against those named in the FIR, including officials and the private parties, the court said.
The court direction came as an oral submission was also made by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi who appeared for private parties and requested that there be no further investigation in the case.
"Issue notice. She (counsel for Delhi Government) is permitted to file counter reply within a week. You (Delhi Government's Anti Corruption Branch) carry on your investigation but no coercive action shall be taken against Union of India and against any of its officials related to it," the court said.
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 Ambani to raise the price of natural gas at the cost of the common man. All of them have denied the allegations.
The Kejriwal-led Delhi government had lodged the FIR naming Moily, Mukesh Ambani and others on gas pricing issue and had alleged 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.
Appearing for Centre, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran sought quashing of the FIR saying 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.
He said that Delhi government should have approached CBI, as it is an appropriate agency for investigation of such cases.
"How can they (Delhi's Anti Corruption Branch) go before the wrong authority. Let them go before proper forum. Why were they in such a hurry to register the case," he argued.
During the hearing,