Gas dispute: Supreme Court turns down RNRL plea for early hearing

The Supreme Court on Thursday turned down the plea of Reliance Natural Resources Ltd to commence the final hearing on its gas price dispute with Reliance Industries Ltd from 1 September. Instead, a bench headed by reiterated that the court would decide on the date of the final hearing only on 1 September.

On Wednesday, the Anil Ambani-controlled RNRL had dashed off notices to the parties concerned, including his brother Mukesh's RIL and the union government, saying that it had requested the apex court to take up the matter on 1 September itself.

On Tuesday, Anil Ambani had flayed the petroleum ministry and oil minister Murli Deora for colluding with his elder brother Mukesh's RIL in blocking gas supply for its power projects despite a firm commitment, upheld thrice by the Bombay High Court.

Last month, the Bombay High Court had asked Reliance Industries to supply 28 million units of gas to Reliance Natural Resources for 17 years at $2.34 per unit under an earlier agreement, after assigning 12 million units to the state-run power utility NTPC.

The union government then intervened, saying that oil and gas were natural resources and that the government alone had the right to determine supply prices.

Questioning the need for an early final hearing, RIL counsel Harish Salve said, "What public interest would this serve?"

Only a day earlier, Salve had said RIL would not oppose RNRL's plea for an early final hearing, as everyone wanted an early resolution to the case that is holding up various infrastructure development projects.