Gas case hearings to start on 20 October

Gas case hearings to start on 20 October

New Delhi: The Supreme Court agreed to skip preliminary hearings in the dispute between the billionaire Ambani brothers over the supply of natural gas and set a date for final arguments in the case.

All written submissions must be filed before the final arguments start on 20 October, chief justice K.G. Balakrishnan said in the courtroom in New Delhi on Friday after lawyers for the government and companies owned by the Ambani brothers asked the court to dispense with preliminary hearings.

The start of final hearings may shorten proceedings in the dispute between Anil Ambani’s Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL) and Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), controlled by estranged brother Mukesh Ambani, over gas supplies for a planned power plant.

The country’s highest court was previously scheduled to start preliminary hearings and consider setting a date for final hearings next week.

RIL shares gained 1.47% to Rs2,070.30 at close of trading in Mumbai, while RNRL fell 0.64% to Rs85.80.

The benchmark Sensex climbed 0.9%.

RIL’s lawyer Harish Salve, RNRL counsel Mukul Rohatgi and additional solicitor general Mohan Parasaran, representing the Union government, told the court they agreed to start the final hearings on 20 October. The government decides the price of gas and the buyers.

Anil Ambani is trying to enforce an agreement, signed when the family business was split in 2005, requiring RIL to supply 28 million cu. m. ofgas per day from its fields in the Krishna-Godavari basin at $2.34 (Rs114.43) per million British thermal unit (mmBtu) for 17 years to RNRL.

RIL, which operates the field in the Bay of Bengal, says it can’t sell the fuel below the $4.20 per mmBtu level set by the government in 2007.