Apex court reserves verdict on Krishna-Godavari gas row (Lead)

December 18th, 2009 - 8:19 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 18 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday reserved its verdict on the high-profile legal dispute over the supply and pricing of natural gas between Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL).
The three-member bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and Justice P. Sathasivam reserved the verdict after the conclusion of arguments by all parties, lasting 27 days spread over nine weeks.

During the arguments, RNRL counsel Ram Jethmalani and Mukul Rohatgi made a fervent plea to the bench for a direction to Mukesh Ambani-led RIL to supply 28 million units of gas for 17 years at $2.34 per unit.

The two counsel argued that RIL was obliged to supply gas to their client as per the family business reorganisation pact, which was not only binding but also supported by a court-ratified statutory scheme.

The Bombay High Court had earlier ruled in favour of RNRL, a member company of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.

But RIL counsel Harish Salve contended that his client was not reneging on its commitment to supply gas, but said any deal between the two companies needed government approval as per the terms of the production sharing contract.

Salve said there was no breach of contract of supplying gas from Krishna-Godavari basin at $2.34, but the price, tenure and quantity all needed to be ratified by the government.

Appearing for the oil ministry, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium also asserted that the government was the sole owner of the gas under its sovereign powers and that a pact between two brothers cannot change that position.

Subramanium also sought to assure the bench that the oil ministry was not siding with anybody in the gas supply dispute between the two companies — a charge that was levelled by RNRL in its various affidavits on that matter.

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