SC decision on early hearing on Reliance gas supply case on Sept 1

The Supreme Court on Thursday said, it will give a date on September 1 to expedite the decision pertaining to the Krishna-Godavari basin gas dispute between Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance Industries (RIL) and Anil’s Ambani’s Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL).

The matter will be taken up on September 1. On that day, we will give a short date for an early decision in the case, said a bench, headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan. The court in its brief order said: List the matter on September 1 for directions. RNRL counsels Mukul Rohatgi and Mahesh Agrawal mentioned the matter before the bench, seeking an early decision in the case.

In its mentioning note, RNRL said: We will be requesting the honourable court 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 inquired from the RNRL counsel whether the petitioner wanted an interim order from the court. Mr Rohatgi then replied, RNRL was not looking for any interim order but the final disposal of the matter.

Mr Rohatgi further said all 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, said Mr Rohatgi. He further submitted that all the concerned parties were before the court. They should not have any difficulty in fast tracking the case.

RIL counsel Harish Salve did not object to the plea. He, however, drew 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 come up for final disposal after the Diwali holidays in October, said Mr Salve. The court is scheduled to resume on October 19 after the Diwali holidays.

However, Mr Rohatgi wanted the case to be given primacy and decided 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 onwards. The government’s counsel and additional solicitor general Mohan Parasaran did not object to the plea of RNRL.

On July 20, a two-judge bench of the apex court had issued notices to RIL and RNRL on a 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 dollar per mmBtu. The government in its SLP had said, the high court contradicted its gas allocation policy that favoured priority sectors such as fertiliser and power.

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