A public interest litigation seeking a comprehensive audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) into the contract awarded to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) for exploring the Krishna-Godavari basin oil fields was rejected on the grounds of being premature by the Bombay high court.
The division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Roshan Dalvi, however, directed the petroleum ministry to speed up proceedings it had initiated following a report prepared by the CAG on the special audit of the Production Sharing Contract with RIL. The court has set December 31, 2012 as a deadline for the Centre to appoint an expert in case any dispute arises between the Centre and RIL over CAG findings.
City resident Shrikant Padhi had filed the PIL contending a complete process of special audit by CAG was scuttled because of non-cooperation on part of RIL, which did not make their records available for the special audit. His counsel, Ashish Mehta, pointed out that the CAG has, in its report, castigated the Centre for turning a blind eye to several purported illegalities committed by RIL.
Mehta pointed out from the CAG report that under the Production Sharing Contract, it was mandatory for RIL to relinquish 25% of the area before moving to the next phase. They have moved now to a third phase without relinquishing any area from the earlier phases, the lawyer submitted.
Central government counsel Rui Rodrigues, on the other hand, stated that the CAG report had been tabled in Parliament and is presently under examination of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee.