The Election Commission (EC) has directed the government to defer notification of the order on gas price hike till the end of the general election in the third week of May.

In its order on Monday, the Commission said that after taking into account all relevant facts, it had decided to order the government defer the proposal.

The AAP Convenor, Arvind Kejriwal, had asked the Election Commission on March 20 that the decision of the Union Government to effect gas price hike from April 1 was in violation of the Model Code of Conduct. In addition, he had pointed out that the proposed hike had been challenged in the Supreme Court.

Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily had been arguing that the proposal was discussed twice by the Union Cabinet, and approved much before the Election Commission announced the general election schedule.

He had said that the decision to raise gas prices for public sector and private producers had gone through a governance process. “It was considered by the Cabinet twice and approved twice,” the Minister had contended.

In his petition, Mr. Kejriwal had maintained that the government had decided to increase the price of natural gas from April 1 from the existing $ 4.2 per mmBtu (million metric British thermal unit) to $8.4 per mmBtu, and the ‘policy decision’ was a clear violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

He had charged that the hike was directly aimed at providing huge financial benefits to Reliance Industries Limited and falls within the ambit of corrupt practices during the elections.

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