Reliance Industries (RIL) on Friday told the Supreme Court that though the government is opposed to arbitration, it is still holding on to the arbitrator it had appointed to resolve dispute over non-revision of prices of domestically produced natural gas rom its most touted KG-D6 block in the east coast.
Counsel Harish Salve told the bench of justice Ranjan Gogoi that the government has “completely inconsistent behaviour” as on one hand it says that “the issue is not arbitrable and the chapter is closed and on the other it says that our arbitrator continues. They need to make up their mind.” RIL’s stand comes in the wake of the government asking the SC to reject the Mukesh Ambani-promoted firm’s plea for appointment of the umpire arbitrator as the dispute is “not arbitrable.”
Considering that two companies — RIL partners BP and Niko Resources — “are foreign companies, who are directly affected by any determination in the present case, it would be appropriate that the third arbitrator is appointed from a country other than India, the UK, and Canada that is of neutral nationality,” he argued, adding that “the principle of neutrality is a common feature of a number of institutional rules that govern the appointment of arbitrators.”
But the government has said that its role as an executive in framing policies for an entire sector of entities and the public at large cannot be challenged and decided under a private contract which the government has entered into with a private party for the purposes of exploration, extraction and exploitation of natural resources.