A day before the all-important hearing of the gas dispute between the Ambani brothers, the government on Monday told the Supreme Court that it was well within its rights to file a petition in a gas dispute between two corporate houses, as its interests have been “prejudiced” by the Bombay High Court.
The Centre’s affidavit was in response to Anil Ambani group firm RNRL’s contention that the government cannot make a plea as it was not a party before the Bombay High Court.
But the government affidavit, filed through Oil Ministry Under Secretary S.M. Sundaram, said: “The order of the Bombay High Court is clearly detrimental to the government’s ability to regulate natural gas supply and distribution as it privileges a private arrangement over the government’s utilisation policy.”
The Government reiterated it was the owner of natural gas, which is a national property. It said Mukesh-Ambani run Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), as a contractor, was bound to act in accordance with policies approved by the Empowered Group of Ministers.
This fact was duly recognised by both RIL and RNRL, and it was strange for RNRL to contend that it had no role in the gas allocation pursuant to a family memorandum of understanding with RIL, the government said.
The Centre claimed it was irrelevant at what stage it learnt of the RIL-RNRL agreement or at what time it chose to file the intervention plea.
RNRL can’t seek to equate its contract with that of NTPC’s contract with RIL, it said, adding that RIL made no proposal to the government for selling 12 mmscmd of gas at $2.34 (Rs 108) per mmBtu to NTPC, which is a requirement under the PSC.