LG-Kejriwal tussle began with a 2014 FIR

LG-Kejriwal tussle began with a 2014 FIR

In picture: Arvind Kejriwal PTI file photo.

The genesis of the power struggle between the Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor (LG), which culminated with the Supreme Court verdict on Wednesday, was in an FIR filed by the ACB on the direction of Arvind Kejriwal-led administration in 2014 against Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and UPA ministers on gas pricing.

The FIR against the then Union ministers M Veerappa Moily and Murli Deora, as well as RIL chief Mukesh Ambani, among others, in February 2014 during the first Kejriwal government claiming the irregularities in pricing of gas from KG-6 (KG Basin) would cost the country a minimum of Rs 54,500 crore per year had stirred the hornet's nest.

Kejriwal had then claimed that the decision to hike the price of gas from existing $4.2 (Rs 262.25) per mmBtu (million British thermal units) to $8.4 (Rs 524.20) per mmBtu will make the prices in India one of the highest in the world and give RIL a windfall profit of Rs 1.2 lakh crore.

The petition for quashing the FIR is pending in the Delhi High Court and a Delhi government counsel in July 2017 informed the high court that "at present the probe in the matter has been stalled and nothing is happening" and that no prejudice would be caused if it is kept pending till the Supreme Court decided the case.

While those named in the FIR denied any wrongdoing, the Centre, as well as the RIL, approached Delhi High Court in May 2014 seeking the quashing of the FIR, claiming that the ACB (Anti Corruption Bureau) does not have the power to file such a case.

The ACB countered it and the high court said it could continue its probe but should not take any coercive action against those named in the FIR.

However, the twist in the tale came when the ACB informed the high court that it cannot probe the case as a central notification took away its jurisdiction to investigate central government employees. The Centre also insisted that the Delhi government cannot order a probe by ACB.

In between, Kejriwal resigned soon after the filing of the case and the investigations did not move much ahead.

It again gained momentum during the second stint of Kejriwal as chief minister but the tussle between the LG and Delhi government intensified with the then LG Najeeb Jung appointing M K Meena as the ACB chief in June 2015.

During this period, nine separate petitions were filed in Delhi High Court on issues — including on the ACB — related to Delhi government's powers. The high court held that the LG is the administrative head of Delhi, which was challenged by the government in Supreme Court.

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