SC rejects RNRL plea on hearing

Written by fe Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: Aug 1 2009, 05:23am hrs
The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to take up a gas dispute between Reliance Industries (RIL) and Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL) for final hearing on September 1, rejecting the plea of Anil Ambani Group company for expeditious proceedings. RNRL on Wednesday had served notices to the oil ministry and RIL in this regard and argued that the gas supply dispute between RIL and RNRL concerns power projects of national importance, representing a capacity of 12,000 mw power and an investment of over Rs 50,000 crore.

A bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan said it would decide on the date of final hearing on September 1, when it would consider various petitions related to the dispute. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear cross-appeals by both Ambani group firms on September 1, as also a petition by the Petroleum Ministry against a Bombay High Court order that asked RIL to supply gas to RNRL at $2.34 per million British thermal unit (mmBtu) against the officially prescribed $4.2 per mmbtu.

The RNRL prayer came up for mentioning and the companys counsel Mukul Rohtagi requested that final hearing be taken up on September 1, as the entire Bombay High Court record was before the apex court and nothing was left to be filed. All parties are here, he said, referring to Mukesh Ambani-led RIL, the government and gas users.

However, RIL counsel Harish Salve questioned the need for an early final hearing, saying, What public interest would this serve

When the court enquired whether the petitioner wanted interim arrangement on September 1 or the final order, Rohtagi said that RNRL was not looking for interim arrangement. At this point, Salve requested the court that there should be complete silence from all parties as people are going to the media.

Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran said the government also wanted early resolution of the dispute. The court said it would try to give an early date, but the first week of September is not possible.