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Govt informs SC about new domestic gas pricing policy

The central government has told the Supreme Court it had announced new domestic gas pricing policy guidelines, discontinuing the Rangarajan formula.

It said the new guidelines, declared on November 1, were much better for the nation and citizens.

Solicitor-General Ranjit Kumar told the court that in view of this development, the petition moved by Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta, no longer survived. Dasgupta’s main challenge was to the Rangarajan formula and since it was not applicable and never given effect to, the petition had become infructuous.

However, two other petitions, alleging fraud and gold plating benefiting Reliance Industries, might survive, the counsel said.

Reliance Industries counsel Harish Salve told the bench, headed by T S Thakur, that most of the issues raised in the court about pricing were before two arbitral tribunals, presided over by a retired Australian judge, Michael Kerby.

He said the company was in a “ hearing involving overlapping issues. As of now, the schedule of hearing has not been fixed.” The counsel said the court might hear the present petitions after the arbitration award.

The judges asked Salve to provide them the terms of reference of the arbitration panels, to which he agreed.

The counsel for Dasgupta said though the new policy had come into effect, some issues like the pricing and relinquishment of oil wells in the KG Basin still remained to be argued.

Common Cause counsel Prashant Bhushan was more adamant and insisted a court-monitored investigation team be set up to probe the issues of fraud leading to huge public losses, gold-plating and large amounts flowing from a nameplate company in Singapore to Reliance.

He also referred to the latest Comptroller and Auditor General report, which he claimed had confirmed his earlier allegations.

However, the solicitor- general stated it was only an interim report and the final is yet to be prepared. The hearing was then adjourned to January.

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