HC orders graft probe by CVC against top ONGC officials news
23 April 2013

The Gujarat High Court, acting on a public interest litigation, on Monday directed the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to investigate allegations of corruption against top officials of the Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC).

A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala directed the CVC to initiate the probe within 15 days and submit the report to the court preferably within three months, K G Pillai, counsel for the petitioners, told newspersons in Ahmedabad.

The court ordered the probe on basis of a PIL filed in 2011 by two employees of the state-owned explorer - chief geophysicist K C Harikumar and chief engineer Anil Dhavan. They sought investigation by the CVC into an alleged Rs3 crore scam in which donations were collected by top ONGC officials from multinational drilling contractors in the guise of charity, and pocketed by the officials.

The petitioners had also alleged misappropriation of funds meant for corporate social responsibility.

The petitioners claimed that R S Sharma, the then chairman and managing director of ONGC, and Sudhir Vasudeva, the then director (offshore), Mumbai and now chairman and managing director, with the collusion of other directors and senior officers, had helped the ONGC Mahila Samithi, headed by Sharma's wife Rashmi, to collect Rs3.26 crore as donation from 49 multinational contractors.

These contractors included Schlumberger and Reliance Industries. The companies have contracts for offshore drilling in Mumbai High.

Pillai contended that the donations were collected against the norms. After obtaining information under the Right to Information (RTI) law, they complained to ONGC authorities, the CVC and to the union government under the whistleblower policy. But their complaints were not heeded; hence they had approached the high court.

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HC orders graft probe by CVC against top ONGC officials