Family rights later, national rights first. In a change of stance, the government said it is unconcerned about any family agreement between the Ambani brothers and will file an “interim application” in the Supreme Court within three days to protect its “own rights and policies” on the pricing and utilisation of natural gas, being produced by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).
<b1>“We’ll be filing an interim application before the SC soon,” government counsel Mohan Parasaran told HT. “This application will modify our prayer that the government’s rights under the production sharing contract with RIL and its policies of gas should prevail over any family agreement.”
The interim application — where the government will seek the court’s permission to delink its rights under the contract with RIL from the family agreement — will be in addition to its July 18 petition.
In its July 18 petition, the petroleum ministry had requested the SC to “nullify” the 2005 Ambani family agreement, which said that after distributing the share of gas committed to NTPC and Anil Ambani’s RNRL, the balance would be divided between Mukesh and Anil in the 60:40 ratio.
“The government is very clear that it does not want to get into any private arena and is not at all seeking to interfere with the Ambani family MoU (the Ambanis’ June 2005 memorandum of understanding),” Parasaran said. “But at the same time, family agreements cannot interfere with government’s rights and policies, which will prevail over any private arrangement and we will protect the same.”
Ahead of his statement in Lok Sabha on Monday on the ongoing dispute, Petroleum and Natural Gas minister Murli Deora refused to comment, saying the “matter is sub judice”.
His statement will be in response to issues raised by Samajwadi Party members in Lok Sabha on July 29, a day after Anil accused the petroleum ministry of colluding with his elder brother in the dispute.
“There are no differences, no confusion,” the Law and Justice minister M Veerappa Moily told Hindustan Times on the government’s decision to modify its petition. “The government is clear on the issue. It is our petition and we will protect the national interests. We are not bothered about anything else.”