A former bureaucrat who worked in the power ministry and recently complained to the Delhi government about the Centre's natural gas pricing mechanism has said that he did so because he was dissatisfied with the Centre's decisions and actions over the pricing mechanism.
Former secretary in the power ministry, EAS Sarma, was one of the four to approach former Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (who quit on Friday) a few weeks ago hoping that Kejriwal will act against the gas pricing mechanism. The three others who also wrote to Kejriwal on the issue are former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian, former Navy chief admiral RH Tahiliani and advocate Kamini Jaiswal. Following the correspondence, at Kejriwal's behest, the anti-corruption bureau filed an FIR against oil minister M Veerappa Moily, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and others for creating an artificial shortage of gas in the country and raising prices.
"I was not satisfied with the steps taken by the Central government. So I approached Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was fighting corruption to take action against the hike in natural gas prices that would benefit only one company (Reliance Industries)," said Sarma.
Sarma first wrote a letter on the subject to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2009. Subsequently, he shot off 17 letters, including 13 to Singh and four to the Chief Vigilance Commission, pointing out a possible scam in the government as the mechanism for the price of natural gas was determined by a group of ministers' decision in absolute violation of the production sharing contract. Sarma termed the mechanism illegal.
The Centre, while acknowledging the receipt of Sarma's letter, did not take any action. For Sarma, filing a complaint with the Delhi government was then just a natural step. "I was just trying my luck," said Sarma and added that his complaint was independent of the ones filed by the three others. "We interact through emails to discuss the issue as we have been separately following up the issue for long," said Sarma.
Jaiswal pointed out that the Supreme Court is looking into the matter of natural gas pricing but if a 'crime' occurred in Delhi, it would fall in the Delhi government's jurisdiction. "The Supreme Court case deals with larger issues. In our complaint, we have taken up the issue of former Petroleum Secretary benefiting from Reliance Industries. Nobody has taken up this issue. And the crime has happened in Delhi, so it was a natural step to go to the Delhi government to look into it," said Jaiswal.
When pointed out that Moily has called the Delhi police move to file the FIR "unconstitutional", Jaiswal said that it would be natural that the Central government will question the (Delhi government's) jurisdiction. "But the fact of the matter is that the central government is an accused in the complaint and they will say such things," said Jaiswal.