Haryana's proposed move to exempt Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Ventures Ltd (RVL) from legal repercussions, including a penal clause, for returning 1,383 acres of government land in a Gurgaon joint venture was put on hold on Saturday for "technical reasons".
The matter was put before the Haryana Investment Promotion Board (HIPB) headed by chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
The 1,383 acres were transferred by the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastucture Development Corporation (HSIIDC) to Reliance Haryana SEZ Ltd (RHSL) for setting up a special economic zone.
However, in January 2012 Haryana asked RVL to return the land, as the Gurgaon SEZ project could not fructify even after six years.
Reliance had sought reimbursement of Rs. 1,172 crore from the state government for returning the land.
This amount included the entire land cost it paid to HSIIDC, development cost, stamp duty, the annuity it paid to farmers and 18% annual interest.
RVL has been asked to route the request for refund through the joint venture, RHSL.
The government committee constituted to examine the matter had rejected Reliance's demand for payment of 18% annual interest. "A final decision will be taken by HIPB," Haryana officials said.
The government had proposed to settle the issue of handing back the Gurgaon land to HSIIDC by stepping outside the scope of the JV agreement between Reliance and HSIIDC for setting up the SEZ in Gurgaon - a move had the potential to create a fresh controversy for the state government for 'favouring' Reliance.
The JV agreement stipulates that in case RHSL failed to procure about 4,100 acres of land, the land would revert to the government, and RVL would be required to pay 15% of the value of land as penalty.