CENTRE RETRACTS AFFIDAVIT ON RIL GAS

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THE government has withdrawn the affidavit it had filed in the Bombay High Court, which argued that Reliance Industries (RIL) cannot sell KG basin gas at a price less than $4.20 per million British thermal units (mBtu).

The surprise move comes in the wake of Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL) counsel Ram Jethmalani’s demand to cross-examine the official who had signed the affidavit on behalf of the government. However, the government counsel, additional solicitor general Mohan Parasaran, and RIL counsel Harish Salve strongly opposed Mr Jethmalani’s demand for cross-examination.

Appearing for the government, Mr Parasaran said the affidavit, filed during the hearings on the dispute between Mukesh Ambani-led RIL and younger brother Anil Ambani’s RNRL, was being withdrawn. “We have withdrawn the affidavit as we do not want to waste the court’s time in cross-examinations. The government will assist the court with respect to policies and provisions of the production-sharing contract. We will file our submissions in January, when the matter comes up for hearing.”

Arguing against cross-examination, RIL counsel Salve said, “It’s (a) tragedy of error. The court cannot allow crossexamination of an intervener.” Mr Salve also sought six working days of the court to present his arguments against RNRL’s fresh appeals.

In the long-running case between RIL and RNRL, the government had become an intervener seeking to lift the stay on RIL’s gas sales.

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