Ambani gas row: Govt to adopt softer tone in SC

25 Aug

mukeshambani_0NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday decided to shed much of its belligerence in the Supreme Court in the RIL-RNRL legal battle over sharing of KG basin gas and instead focus only on the core issue of the production sharing contract between it and RIL and the pricing of gas. It has decided to file a clarificatory affidavit in the SC on Wednesday in its independent appeal in the gas row between Mukesh Ambani’s RIL and Anil Ambani’s RNRL, sources in the petroleum ministry said. The move comes after the ministry realised that it had made unnecessary statements like “the memorandum of understanding and family agreement between Mukesh’s RIL and Anil’s RNRL is `null and void’ in the face of enormous national interest involved in distribution of natural gas”. It also decided not to lay stress on its earlier statement – “…RIL and RNRL have appropriated, through the MoU, in a surreptitious and unauthorised manner, the entire gas treating the same as their personal and family property”. Importantly, however, it has decided to stick to its core argument – the issues relating to sharing of gas between the government and RIL and the pricing would be governed by the production sharing contract (PSC) and the decisions of the empowered group of ministers (EGoM). In its clarificatory affidavit, the ministry will also attempt to set right a technical oversight made in the appeal filed on July 18. The Centre had forgotten to seek leave of the SC to file the special leave petition (SLP), which was necessary as the Centre was not a party before the Bombay High Court but only an intervenor. It will make clear in the affidavit that it was not at all interested in “upsetting” the 2005 family agreement between the Ambani brothers nor the MoU between RIL and RNRL. The Centre, in its appeal filed on July 18, had sought quashing of the June 15 judgment of the Bombay HC. It had said that natural gas was meant for industrialisation of the entire country and not for the individual gains of the ventures owned by Ambanis and added, “The national economy cannot be allowed to be held hostage by the Ambanis.” RIL had in its affidavit before the SC on July 17 virtually supported the stand of the Centre that there could not be any bilateral agreement between RIL and RNRL for supply of gas as it was subject to the decision of the Centre. However, RNRL had contested this stand and sought implementation of the Bombay HC order upholding the family agreement for sharing of gas. Elaborating on the national interest involved in the gas production from the KG basin, the Centre had said, “The gas produced and expected to be produced from KG basin and other fields under the various PSCs is substantial. It is expected to nearly double the availability of gas in India in about one year’s time. If properly used, it will promote industrialisation of India. Source:

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Posted by on August 25, 2009 in Business


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