Centre likely to move SC over Kejriwal's gas pricing allegations

The union government may very soon move the Supreme Court over allegations by Arvind Kejriwal, who resigned as chief minister of Delhi on Friday that the government was colluding with Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) to jack up prices of domestically produced natural gas.

Kejriwal had also alleged that the Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, normally at loggerheads, had combined to ensure his resignation and protect RIL.

According to a CNN-IBN report today, the central government is likely to move the Supreme Court today itself. Citing unnamed sources, it said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh consulted senior ministers on this matter two days ago, when the allegations were first levelled.

Kejriwal had, earlier this week, ordered the filing of complaints against petroleum minister Veerappa Moily, his predecessor Murli Deora and RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani by the anti-corruption branch of the Delhi Police for creating an artificial shortage of gas in the country and raising prices; and the ACB has duly filed first information reports (FIRs).

Meanwhile, in the first official reaction from the Centre to Kejriwal's orders for the police complaint, Moily described the action as "unconstitutional" and said there would be no going back on implementing the new mechanism that would see natural gas prices doubling from 1 April.

"Where is the question of stalling or stopping anything? It [the decision to implement new gas pricing formula for both public sector and private companies] has gone through a governance process ... it was considered by cabinet twice and approved twice," Moily said on Friday.

The cabinet had, in June, accepted the mechanism suggested by a panel of experts under C Rangarajan, chairman of PM's Economic Advisory Council, which would bring gas prices closer to market rates.

The government has brought in the new mechanism with a view to attracting investments and turn gas finds with an estimated 30 billion cubic metres of reserve commercially viable. But Leftist leader Gurudas Dasgupta and now Kejriwal's Aam Admi Party have opposed the move claiming it has been done to benefit Reliance Industries Ltd, the country's biggest private gas producer.

"It is absolutely based on recommendations made by the Dr Rangarajan Committee. He is an eminent economist and he has gone through the mills. And I have not changed even a word or a full stop or a comma from the recommendation. So where is the question of [my involvement]?'' Moily asked.

"The Rangarajan Committee was appointed by Jaipal Reddy who was the minister. I have not appointed the committee to suit my needs," Moily added.

"I don't think Delhi government is our appellate authority. What they are doing is totally unconstitutional. And it is definitely against the principles of federalism," Moily said.