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Reliance Ind to end gas case argument by Oct 29

Last Updated: Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 08:52

New Delhi: Energy major Reliance Industries will conclude initial arguments before the Supreme Court in a gas-pricing dispute with Reliance Natural Resources by October 29, a lawyer for the firm said.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries, India`s top conglomerate, is fighting with Reliance Natural, led by younger brother Anil Ambani, over the terms of a deal to sell gas to Reliance Natural at below the price set by the government.

The deal, part of a private family settlement under which the energy-to-telecoms Reliance empire was split between the brothers in 2005, has drawn in the government, unnerved investors, and could set the tone for the country`s policy on gas pricing and sales.

Reliance Industries has been presenting initial arguments in the case before the Supreme Court since on Tuesday, saying the private deal between the Ambani brothers is not binding on the company, and it can sell the gas only at the government-approved price.

Reliance Natural claims the contract is valid and wants the court to direct Reliance Industries to supply it with 28 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) of gas for 17 years at almost half the government-set price of USD 4.2 per million metric British thermal unit (mmBtu).

Reliance Industries would finish its initial arguments by next Wednesday or Thursday, company lawyer Harish Salve told reporters.

A three-member court bench including Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan will subsequently hear arguments from Reliance Natural, following which it will consider a petition by the government to become a party to the dispute.

The government, which has the power to decide who can buy gas and at what price, had filed an application asserting it is the rightful owner of the disputed gas.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, October 22, 2009 - 08:52
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