SC will hear KG gas dispute case on Oct 20
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court, from October 20, will hear the Krishna-Godavari
gas dispute between Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL) and
Anil Ambani’s Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL) for its final disposal. A bench
headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan on Friday fixed the date for an early
decision in the case.
RNRL counsels Mukul Rohatgi and Mahesh Agrawal mentioned the matter before the
court, seeking fixation of the date for its final disposal. They raised the
issue during mentioning time (period earmarked to take up urgent matters), in
view of the postponement of the case. It was scheduled to come up before the
court on September 1, but was postponed by the Supreme Court Registry to
September 4 due to non-availability of the bench on that day.
The court fixed the date, taking into account the submissions of all the parties
concerned in the case.
RIL counsel Harish Salve suggesting October 20 as the date for hearing said: “We
will start on that day and finish as soon as possible.” This was not opposed by
RNRL counsel and government’s counsel and additional solicitor general Mohan
Parasaran. They further said they were ready for day-to-day hearing of the case.
The court then asked RNRL and RIL to file their responses. The court had issued
notices to RNRL and RIL on the Special Leave Petition filed by the ministry of
petroleum and natural gas, seeking quashing of the Bombay High Court order,
directing RIL to supply gas to RNRL at $2.34 per mmBtu.
The case was postponed to September 4, as a natural corollary to the
continuation of the five judge constitution bench hearing in the next week as
well. The five-judge constitution assembled since August 18 today reserved its
verdict on the legality of the government’s amendment in the Civil Services
Rule, relating to the allocation of all India services such as IAS and IPS and
other central services like IFS, IRS, etc.
From September 1, the constitution bench is scheduled to commence the hearing on
the issue of whether the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity has jurisdiction to
decide the issue relating to power trading margin and its power to deal with the
validity of regulations framed by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission
(CERC). September 1, 2 and 3 being Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,
respectively, are reserved for the constitution bench hearing.
The court had fixed September 1 to give an early date for the final disposal of
the KG slugfest when RNRL had mentioned it. In its mentioning note, RNRL had
said: “We will be requesting the honourable court (SC) to clarify/direct that
the main petitions (RIL and RNRL) may also be taken up for final hearing and
disposal on and from September 1, 2009, the date already fixed by the court.”
The court, after hearing the plea had said: “the matter will be taken up on
September 1. On that day, we will give a short date for early decision in the
RNRL counsel had submitted that all the records of the Bombay High Court were
before the apex court. It may look into those and decide the matter
expeditiously. However, if any party wants to file any additional document, they
are at liberty to do it, Mr Rohatgi had said.
RIL counsel Harish Salve, however, had drawn attention of the court towards the
procedural difficulty in constituting a three-judge bench to hear the case. All
these will take time and the matter may go up for final disposal after Diwali
holidays in October, said Mr Salve. The court is scheduled to resume on October
19 after the Diwali holidays.
A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan had referred the KG
gas case before a three-judge bench.
Mr Rohatgi, however, had wanted the hearing on a preferential basis in September
itself, preferably within 20 days from September 1 onwards as the apex court is
scheduled go for the Durga Puja holidays from September 21.
RIL had moved the Supreme Court, challenging the Bombay High Court order that
asked it to supply 28 mmscmd of gas to RNRL at $2.34 per mmbtu.
RNRL on the other hand approached the apex court against the part of the Bombay
High Court judgement. RNRL had said, the high court while directing that the Gas
Supply Agreement ought to be amended, as it should have given final and
effective directions for amendment of such agreement to make it bankable.