Gas row: RNRL raises objections on Govt affidavit

Government's stand in its affidavit that the arrangement for the supply and pricing of gas for NTPC cannot be equated with a private agreement between RIL and RNRL was based on the interpretation of the secondary source of information and cannot be accepted, RNRL counsel Ram Jethmalani said.

However, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said Government was only concerned with public interest and was not interfering in the battle between the Ambani brothers and they have to resolve their dispute by themselves. The Government stand was in response to RNRL's contention that it was entitled to receive the gas at USD 2.34 per unit from RIL which had entered into an arrangement for supplying gas to NTPC at that rate.

"The Government affidavit is not even worth the paper on which it is written on. Affidavits can't be based on interpretation of records," Jethmalani said before a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan.

"The records on which the affidavit is based must be brought before this court," Jethmalani told the Bench, also comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and P Sathasivam.
RNRL said though the affidavit was in relation to the NTPC, the PSU was not before the court to make its point of submission.

"It is not an affidavit on behalf of NTPC. Though they say Government is one there are its three components -- Ministry of Power, Ministry of Petroleum and NTPC --which are at loggerheads," he said. "Where are the rights of NTPC. The conflicting ministries are in conference and produced an unintelligible document.The interest of NTPC has been compromised," he added.

RNRL, which has accused the Government of siding with RIL, said "there has been a ploy to keep NTPC quite and not raise its voice".

The government affidavit has "dangerous" implications for RNRL, Jethmalani said alleging that "the Ministry of Petroleum is hand in glove with the other side to defeat me".

"On the one side they are stating that interest of NTPC will be looked after and on the other hand they are settling scores with RNRL to defeat younger brother (Anil Ambani)," he said. Subramanium said the affidavit has made it clear that Government will take care of NTPC as and when it comes for allocation of gas.

Subramanium said it is not for the court to interpretate the production sharing contract. However, this submission was opposed by Jethmalani who said RNRL has been driven to seek interpretation of the PSC as RIL's defence has been that the price of USD 2.34 per unit is subject to government approval. He said RIL was fully aware of the PSC while entering into contract with NTPC in 2003.

The Solicitor General said the PSC was placed only for assisting the court. "No party made the case that PSC is to be interpretated," he said adding that Government was not formally a party before the Bombay High Court.

"We will consider the case of NTPC as and when it comes. We have to consider the public interest. We will exercise our discretion," Subramanium said. He said Government was not against any of the warring brothers and it is upto them to find a solution to their dispute.

"Government is only concerned with its own interest," he said adding that "it is a battle between them (Ambanis) and Government is not there. They are the captains of industry and we respect them," he said.

The Ambani brothers are engaged in a bitter court battle over the supply and price of the gas from KG Basin. While RNRL is seeking gas at a committed price of USD 2.34 per unit, RIL says it cannot honour the commitment made in the 2005 family agreement due to government's pricing and gas policy.

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