RIL to seek legal advice on Kejriwal threats; Moily scoffs them off

Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd today responded strongly to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's threat to order a probe into the company's gas pricing policies, saying it would seek legal recourse.

"We deny these irresponsible allegations and propose to resort to available legal remedies to protect our reputation and preserve the pioneering efforts and investment made by Reliance so far," RIL said in a statement said. It called the Delhi government's initiation of an investigation into gas pricing as "shocking", and added that the complaints that were used to base the action were baseless and devoid of merit or substance.

On Tuesday, Kejriwal told the media that he has ordered the anti-corruption branch of the Delhi Police to file a criminal case against Mukesh Ambani, former petroleum minister Murli Deora, and current minister Veerappa Moily, as well as the former chief of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, V K Sibal.

Kejriwal said the decision was taken after studying a joint complaint filed by some four more or less eminent people: former cabinet secretary T S R Subrmanian, former Navy chief Admiral R H Tahiliani, eminent lawyer Kamini Jaiswal and former secretary in the union government E A S Sarma.

Kejriwal has directed that the criminal case be filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act. (See: Kejriwal trains guns on Ambani, Deora, Moily over gas pricing)

Moily too rebutted Kejriwal's allegations and said that pricing of petroleum products is done under expert advice. Waxing sarcastic, the petroleum minister said, "I think I should sympathise with his ignorance. He should know how the government functions; how these things are done ... I took special interest to ensure that the CNG and PNG prices are reduced. You should know that."

Kejriwal said the decision to hike the price of gas from $4.2 (Rs262.25) per mmBtu (million British thermal units) to $8.4 (Rs524.20) per mmBtu will make the prices in India one of the highest in the world. "In case this price hike is allowed to take place, it will make the life of the common man miserable since it will have a cascading effect on transport, domestic gas and even electricity prices," said the chief of the Aam Admi Party.

On whether the anti-corruption bureau of the Delhi police can conduct such a probe, the Delhi government said, "Since most of the alleged offences, including the most important decision to finalise the exorbitant hike in prices of gas, have been committed in Delhi (by the union government), the investigation has been referred to the ACB."