SC judge pulls out of Ambani gas case


Anil Ambani and Mukesh Ambani

As soon as the bench assembled for hearing the case between the RIL and the Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL), Justice Raveendran said: “I don’t want to be a party to it. I want to recuse myself from it. I didn’t even know till yesterday (Tuesday). My daughter, who is in Bangalore, is with AZB Partners, and the company is advising one of the parties on its global acquisition.”

The case was heard by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan.

Harish Salve and Ram Jethmalani, advocates of RIL and RNRL, respectively, said they were not opposed to the judge’s continuance on the bench.
However, Justice Raveendran said: “Justice should not be done, but it is seen to be done. I know my conscience is clear. What we have to do, what we do in such circumstances.’’

Outside the courtroom, RIL advocate P H Parekh said Justice Raveendran’s daughter was a partner with AZB partners, a firm floated by Jia Modi and stationed in Bangalore.
The bench has been hearing the case since October 20 and was scheduled to complete the process by the end of the third week of November. A new bench will be constituted on Thursday to hear the high-voltage case between the RIL and the RNRL on supply and pricing of gas from KG 6 Basin.

The bench has been hearing petitions filed by the RIL to overturn a Bombay High Court order to supply gas to a company owned by Anil Ambani at 44 per cent less than the price set by the government in 2007.
Justice Raveendran had earlier offered to withdraw from the case, stating that he owned shares in the RIL and the RNRL.
In another development, Justice Markandey Katju pulled out of a matter pending adjudication between the RIL and the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd on supply of naptha.

Justice Katju said he had pulled out of the case as he owned shares of RIL, and that it was made public on Monday.

RIL’s regret
Meanwhile, the RIL on Wednesday regretted that crucial time of the Supreme Court got wasted as it was not aware that Justice Raveendran’s daughter was associated with solicitors firm AZB Partners, which is advising the company on various issues.
Commenting on the developments in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, RIL in its statement said it was “neither aware nor the solicitors’ firm AZB Partners informed us that Justice Raveendran’s daughter is associated with the Bangalore office of AZB.
“This fact came as a surprise to our senior counsel (Harish Salve) and us. AZB Partners, which has been advising us from time to time, should have informed us of this fact and the RIL regrets that six working days of the honourable court were lost,” the company said.

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