SC ends Ambani gas hearing early amid mud-slinging

The hearing in the Supreme Court over the gas pricing dispute between the Ambani brothers came to a bitter and early end in the afternoon, with accusations and counter-accusations flying from three sides, some of them touching on the personal integrity of the parties.

Following the heated exchanges, the bench rose early for the day, to resume the hearing on Tuesday. The schedule of hearing was changed and according to the current estimate, it will end by mid-December, just before the year-end holidays.

Anil Ambani's Reliance Natural Resources Ltd told the Supreme Court on the 18th day of the hearing that Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd had in collusion with the petroleum ministry cobbled together a gas supply master agreement (GSMA) to scuttle the original family agreement by inserting a clause requiring government approval for the gas price.

Under that agreement reached in 2005, when the brothers parted ways, RIL was to supply gas from its Krishna-Godavari block to RNRL at $2.34 per mmbtu, which is lower than the government-mandated price of $ 4.20 per mmbtu.

Ram Jethmalani, senior counsel for Anil Ambani's RNRL, also produced some documents, including a letter from the state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation to the power ministry.

In that letter NTPC purportedly says that RIL, while submitting its bid to supply gas to the country's largest power utility in 2003, had never mentioned at the time that its contract with NTPC required the approval of the government.