Govt reverses stand in SC, says not against Ambani family MoU | business | Hindustan Times
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Govt reverses stand in SC, says not against Ambani family MoU

business Updated: Sep 05, 2009 14:09 IST

The government on Tuesday informed Supreme Court that it was not for declaring the Ambani family settlement "null and void" as prayed earlier and said that its policies on gas pricing were without prejudice to power utility NTPC's case against RIL. Anil Ambani has welcomed the amendments proposed by government to its petition on gas matter in Supreme Court.

"It (government) is in no way concerned with the private dispute between (Mukesh-led) RIL and (Anil group firm) RNRL or between the Ambani brothers, but is only concerned with its rights as owner and regulator of natural gas," the Centre said in an application.

The interlocutory application, seeking amendment to prayers in the SLP pertaining to Ambani gas dispute filed on July 18, also takes up the cause of NTPC, which is fighting RIL for gas at a committed price of $ 2.34 per mmBtu.

"The rights and obligations between RIL and NTPC cannot be regarded as similar in status to the private arrangement between RIL and RNRL, because of NTPC's status as a public utility and the process involved - ie international competitive bidding," it said, clarifying that any decision on gas pricing was without prejudice to the power PSU's case.

In its July 18 petition, the government had prayed that "(the MoU) should be declared null and void," as it would mean that all the gas from the KG basin would be owned and utilised by RIL and RNRL.

Asserting its ownership over gas from KG-D6 fields, the government SLP had hit at the Mukesh and Anil Ambani groups for "surreptitiously" appropriating national resources, treating it as personal and family property.

"It is not the intention of the government to enter into the arena of private arrangements entered into between parties or question the validity and legality of MoU, lock, stock and barrel," the government said today, while making it clear that it was not seeking any relief "to set at naught" any private family arrangement.

The family agreement provided for dividing gas from RIL's KG-D6 fields between RIL and RNRL.

The application was filed by the government in accordance with the decision taken by a group of ministers, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in the face of bitter public battle on gas issue wherein Anil Ambani group is seeking fuel from RIL at the same price as one sought by NTPC.

"It has been the unequivocal stand of the government that the approval of the price of sale of gas at $ 4.2 per mmBtu in respect of (RIL's) D6 block was without prejudice to the rights of NTPC in the pending suit filed by it against RIL before the Bombay High Court," the government said on Tuesday.

The application comes within days of an ad campaign launched by the Anil Ambani group alleging that the government approved price of $ 4.2 per mmBtu would cost NTPC about Rs 30,000 crore.

The government application also sought setting aside of the Bombay High Court decision on RIL-RNRL matter that relates to the interpretation of its gas utilisation policy and provisions of the Production Sharing Contract.