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Cheating, conspiracy charges in FIR

Mukesh Ambani

New Delhi, Feb. 12: The Delhi government’s anti-corruption branch (ACB) today registered an FIR over alleged collusion in inflating Reliance gas prices, a day after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s announcement.

Company chairman Mukesh Ambani, petroleum minister Veerappa Moily, his predecessor Murli Deora and V.K. Sibal have been named in the 38-page document.

Sibal is a former director-general of hydrocarbons and headed the central wing that plays a role in determining gas prices. The four have been booked under Indian Penal Code provisions related to criminal conspiracy and cheating, besides the Prevention of Corruption Act.

“The first step for the investigating officers would be to collect the relevant papers, which include file notings by the ministers concerned and officials,” said a senior ACB officer.

No deadline has been set for the ACB to submit the chargesheet, though officials said they would be required to file interim court reports on the probe’s progress.

But one challenge the ACB would face is that it is rather small in comparison to other agencies and does not have enough officers.

Currently, it has around 20 of them, including an additional commissioner and a deputy commissioner of police besides 18 inspectors.

Kejriwal has accused the Centre of going slow on posting officers in the branch, which is manned by Delhi police personnel.

The chief minister today wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh requesting him to put off a previously announced hike in Reliance gas prices, supposed to kick in from April, till the probe is over.