Govt welcomes SC verdict on RIL-RNRL gas row

Oil Minister Murli Deora, who faced flak for intervening in the gas dispute between the Ambani brothers, welcomed the Supreme Court verdict saying the government stand that gas belongs to the nation has been vindicated.Supreme Court said that the Ambani family MoU seeking to divide gas between Reliance Industries and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd was not binding, both legally and technically.

"I welcome the verdict. No matter what campaign one ran against the government, the nation is supreme," he said without naming Anil Ambani group which had cast aspersions on his ministry for allegedly siding with Mukesh-led RIL.

The government last year moved the apex Court asserting its sovereign right on pricing and utilisation, even as RIL said that it had fixed the gas price at USD 4.20 per mmBtu as per the government policy.

The government's intervention in the case had made Deora the target of attack with Anil Ambani group carrying front page advertisements in newspapers, accusing his ministry of trying to bailout RIL from its obligation under the Ambani family MoU to supply 28 mmscmd of gas to RNRL at a price of USD 2.34 per mmBtu.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the judgement was "good", while Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde termed the verdict as "fair", while making it clear that it has no bearing on state-owned NTPC's battle for gas with RIL.

The rate RNRL claimed is the same that RIL had bid in a 2004 NTPC tender to supply 12 million standard cubic meters per day of gas to the state utility.The contract for supply could not be concluded over differences on terms and NTPC has dragged RIL to Bombay High Court seeking performance of the contract.

"It has nothing to do with my case of NTPC against RIL. No reference has been made on the dispute in the court judgement," Shinde said.He declined to comment on the supply dispute between RIL and RNRL, saying it was a matter between two brothers.
When asked about the Supreme Court upholding government's right under PSC, Shinde said: "It is a fair decision."

Shinde said he was "part and parcel" of the ministerial panels that first approved USD 4.20 per mmBtu price of RIL's KG-D6 gas, fixed priority and users of the fuel and then decided to appeal against the Bombay High Court decision.

Law Minister M Verappa Moily said the verdict was "vindication of the government's sovereign and constitutional rights" over natural gas resources of the country.
"Which side the judgement has gone? I am not making any comment on that. But it is very clear that the stand, which was taken by the government, particularly the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry, has been vindicated and reiterated by the Supreme Court," he said. 

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