Dasgupta urges PM to break silence on Moily-RIL issue

Dasgupta urges PM to break silence on Moily-RIL issue

'Minister prevented officers from sending notice to Reliance'

Veteran Communist Party of India (CPI) leader and MP Gurudas Dasgupta on Saturday fired another missive to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

In a letter to Singh on Saturday, Dasgupta criticised Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily for allegedly attempting to prevent senior officers from sending a notice to Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) for imposing $ 756 million penalty to recover shortfall in production in KG-D6 basin.  Dasgupta also questioned the prime minister’s silence on the issue.

The letter stated: “Unfortunately we are seeing a series of cases in which the petroleum minister is repeatedly overruling senior officials of his ministry, and though I am highlighting these issues repeatedly, you have chosen to remain silent spectator to the entire matter. The instant case is another example of the minister brazenly overruling three senior IAS officers, the head of the directorate general of hydrocarbons (DGH), the joint secretary and the secretary without adducing any cogent reasons,”

The head of the DGH, an additional secretary level IAS officer, had submitted a proposal to the ministry to recover $ 756 million from RIL for the shortfalls in 2012-13, bringing the cumulative disallowance to $1.8 billion. Both, Petroleum Secretary Vivek Rae and Joint Secretary (Exploration) Giridhar Aramane endorsed the DGH proposal and marked the file to Moily for a final nod before the notice was issued, the letter pointed out. 

The minister overruled the three officers and “recommended that the matter be again referred to the solicitor general and the law ministry for clarification before the notice for the year 2012-13 was issued,” Dasgupta revealed.

The MP in his communiqué to Singh stated that there was no need to seek fresh legal opinion given the fact that the earlier May, 2012, legal notice before despatch was vetted by the then law minister and the solicitor general. At that point of time, Moily’s predecessor Jaipal Reddy, who is now the science and technology minister, had accepted the legal opinion of the law ministry, the letter stated. 

The first legal notice has not been stayed by any court so far, Dasgupta emphasised to second the move by the three officers.

“The fresh notice is merely a computational exercise, to calculate further amount to be disallowed based on further shortfalls and therefore no legal opinion was required. The reference to the law ministry is yet another attempt by the petroleum minister to delay and obfuscate issues to give undue benefit to RIL,” Dasgupta asserted.