Days before the Supreme Court begins hearing on the Ambani gas dispute, the government has expanded the legal team, which will put its views before the apex court, by including ASG Vivek Tankha.
Tankha will assist Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Mohan Parasaran, who represents the government in the dispute over the quantities and price committed by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries in a 2005 family agreement for supply of natural gas to a company run by younger brother Anil Ambani.
The appointment, sources close to the development said, follow a review of the case by a panel of ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday.
The government has filed a special leave petition in the apex court seeking to become a party to the dispute and has contended that national resources cannot be appropriated through private family arrangements and it alone holds the right to approve rates and decide on customers keeping national priorities in mind.
The government in its petition has asserted its right to decide on the utilisation and pricing of gas.
"Tankha has been sent the papers including the reply that the Government is to file in the Supreme Court on petitions by RIL and Anil Ambani Group firm RNRL," a source said.
Anil Ambani Group Company RNRL says it has agreement with RIL to get natural gas at a price of $2.34 per mmBtu based on a 2005 family agreement. RIL has refused supply saying the price needs government approval. The government had in 2007 approved $4.20 per mmBtu as price for gas from RIL's KG-D6 fields.