The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has closed its preliminary inquiry against the gas price issue of KG-D6 fields owned by Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). The enquiry was also set against the former Director General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), V K Sibal for allegedly planning with the Mukesh Ambani-led company to raise KG-D6 gas field cost. The enquiry, begun in 2009, was closed due to lack of substantial evidence.
The company had sought governmental nod for its field development plan in 2004. The plan indicated a production capacity of 40 million cubic metres per day (mcmd) with a cost of $2.39 billion. Again, in 2009, Reliance had proposed a development plan of raising the production capacity to 80 mcmd with a cost of $8.8 billion.
However, three years back, CBI was involved to solve the matter as the oil ministry got reports of difference of opinion between the then special director Vineet Kumar Gupta and the investigating team. On request of the ministry, a preliminary inquiry was registered in November 2009. The investigation team submitted the initial reports in 2011. During the investigation, the available documents were analyzed by the senior officials of the CBI and the legal experts of the government. In addition to this, the team was comprised of members from other ministries as well which handled the case. The inquiry also involved the then retired Gupta. During the course of the inquiry, Gupta stood firm on his point of view that “no case was made out in the matter”. He raised objections on the “criminality” mentioned by the investigating team and said that the approvals to the company were permitted by the oil ministry itself. The attorney general also supported the views of Gupta when the agency had sent the files for opinion last year. Hence the enquiry was closed after the legal opinion. A senior cop associated with the enquiry said, “The probe has been closed as the allegations against RIL and Sibal could not be substantiated. There was nothing irregular”.
The investigating team had also recommended to register a case under Section 120-B, read with Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, and read with Section 13(1) (d) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Sibal for showing undue favor to the company by not levying liquidity damages for incomplete work outlined in the first phase of exploration and instead moving to the second phase. Sibal was also charged that he approved the higher field development cost of the ground with gas reserves and the field services. With the inquiry reaching a legal closure on the basis of lack of evidence, the allegations now hold no firm ground.