Gas dispute: SC declines stay on RIL arbitration petition

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The Supreme Court Monday declined to stay the hearing relating to the appointment of a arbitrator for adjudication of dispute between Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and the government over recovery of cost for developing the country’s key natural gas field in the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin.

When the matter came up for hearing before Justice SS Nijjar, advocates for CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta and NGO Common Cause sought stay of the hearing. They brought to the notice of the court that another bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam was seized of their PILs, challenging Centre’s decision to raise the price of natural gas and the contentions over the arbitration agreement was a part of the pleadings.

However, Justice Nijjar said that both pleas are different and RIL’s arbitration petition is not connected with Dasgupta’s PIL.

“We will have the proceeding here. It cannot be stayed. You have to get an order from court one (of CJI) for stay of arbitration. The arbitration clause is only between the Union of India and RIL and there is no third party. We cannot allow an intervention in an arbitration agreement,” added Justice Nijjar and posted the arbitration petition filed by RIL on January 7 next year.

RIL had moved the apex court for appointment of an arbitrator from a foreign country, with which parties in disputes were not connected, after the Centre turned down its proposal.

RIL has nominated former chief justice SP Bharucha as its arbitrator while the Centre chose former chief justice VN Khare as its nominee.

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