Government withdraws affidavit in RIL-RNRL case

December 11th, 2008 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Dec 11 (IANS) The government Thursday withdrew its affidavit in the Bombay High Court in which it had submitted that the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) cannot sell its Krishna-Godavari basin gas to anyone without its approval of the pricing formula.Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, who appeared for the government, told the court that the affidavit, filed during the hearings on the dispute between Mukesh Ambani-led RIL and his younger brother Anil Ambani’s ADAG group company Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL), was being withdrawn.

The move came following insistence by RNRL counsel Ram Jethmalani on cross-examining the government on the issue.

Justice J.N. Patel, who heard the case, suggested that the government could withdraw its affidavit and assist the court through a written submission.

The government’s counsel, Parasaran, acknowledged this.

The government in its affidavit filed last month told the court that RIL could not sell the KG basin gas at a price less than USD 4.20 per million British Thermal Units (BTU).

“Sale of gas at a price less than USD 4.20 per mm BTU is not envisaged as per the Empowered Group of Ministers’ decision taken in accordance with Production Sharing Contract (between the government and RIL),” the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had said in its affidavit.

Petroleum ministry officials were asked to appear before the court to be cross-examined in the case.

Asked about the government’s stand after the withdrawal of its affidavit, Parasaran said: “You will come to know our stand on Jan 12. This is not a step backward.”

The sudden withdrawal of the affidavit is being seen as the government’s move to disassociate itself from the private contractual battle and only concentrate on the legal interpretation of its contract with RIL, top lawyers said.

Saurabh Kirpal, lawyer for RNRL, told IANS that the government’s decision to withdraw the affidavit was voluntary.

“The government now only wishes to go into the legal interpretation of its contract with RIL, as the affidavit contradicts itself. There were a lot of contradictory statements made by the government in parliament concerning the production sharing contract and the dispute between the RIL-RNRL,” Kirpal points out.

Another lawyer, Sunil Mathews said the government doesn’t want to be party to the private dispute between two brothers. “It looked as if the government was interfering,” he added.

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