Gas row: RNRL protest RIL’s counter in SC

Gas row: RNRL protest RIL’s counter in SC

New Delhi: The Anil Ambani-led RNRL on Thursday strongly objected in the Supreme Court to the grounds raised by the Mukesh Ambani group to counter its contention on the supply and pricing of gas from the KG Basin.

RNRL alleged that RIL was countering its submission on the basis of the 12 May 2005 draft agreement between NTPC and RIL which was not part of its arguments.

“I have not made any submission on the May 12 draft. I have not addressed which draft should be taken. I want to argue on the NTPC issue," RNRL’s counsel Mukul Rohatgi said before a Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan.

RNRL was objecting to the contention made by RIL on Wednesday that the 12 May draft agreement between NTPC and RIL for fixing the price of gas from the KG Basin was subject to government approval.

Further, Rohatgi said reference made by RIL’s counsel Harish Salve about 12 May 2005 draft Gas Supply Purchase Agreement (GSPA) of NTPC is confusing since there were three or four drafts floating around.

However, Salve objected to the manner in which Rohatgi addressed the Bench before he could resume the arguments by saying “It (hearing) can’t go like this".

He also countered the allegation of RNRL that NTPC draft agreement was never the part of hearing before the Bombay high court by reading out the judgement of the Division Bench.

“They (RNRL) are raising the protest because it is an inconvenient point to them," Salve said and cited RNRL’s letters where the reference to 12 May 2005 GSPA of NTPC were made.

Salve also made reference to RNRL director Venkat Rao Ponnada’s correspondences to buttress his contention that the NTPC draft contained a clause to deal with gas pricing which was subject to government approval.

While RIL and RNRL were trading charges against each other, solicitor general Gopal Subramanium said since reference has been made about the NTPC draft, he would like to make his submission to clarify the stand of the PSU.

Salve, who continued with his arguments, said even going by the assumption of RNRL that three or four draft GSPA documents of NTPC were floating around, all of them have the clause of governemnt approval on the pricing of gas.

He said much before the family MoU (memorandum of understanding) of 2005 was signed, NTPC circulated drafts which had government approval clause in them.

“In none of the drafts government approval was dropped," the senior advocate said and took a dig at RNRL for placing before the court the 9 August 2009 letter written by NTPC chairman to the power minister along with its affidavit.

“How did RNRL get that letter which was written by the NTPC chairman to the Ministry. The letter was not addressed to the RNRL. You (RNRL) are getting letters written to the Ministry. Your getting a letter (written to Ministry) is too cheeky," he said.

Salve reminded the Bench about the submission made by RNRL’s counsel Ram Jethmalani, who during the hearing had said that the letter was procured through a contact in the Ministry.