Mukesh Ambani inked biased gas pact in 5 minutes: RNRL

New Delhi, Nov 26 ( The Supreme Court was told Thursday that Mukesh Ambani took all of five minutes to approve the self-serving gas supply pact on behalf of both Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL) despite the Rs.100,000-crore financial implication.

Continuing his arguments before the bench hearing the Krishna-Godavari gas dispute, RNRL counsel Ram Jethmalani also said while the gas supply pact was signed Jan 12, 2006, it was much later on Feb 7 that RNRL management passed on to younger Ambani sibling, Anil.

RNRL came into existence only Jan 27, 2006, the counsel said, adding Mukesh Ambani took the decision on behalf of both companies, even though RIL was a mere trustee of what eventually became a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.

“The elder brother authored and approved the agreement unilaterally — virtually sitting on both side of the table,” he told the three-judge Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and Justice P. Sathasivam.

“No wonder, the agreement was suitable to Mukesh Ambani.”

The RNRL counsel went on to add that it was for these reasons that both the single judge and the division bench of the Bombay High Court held the Jan 12, 2006 agreement unjust, unfair and breach of the scheme of de-merger.

Jethmalani said the chief executive of one of Anil Ambani’s group firms, J.P. Chalasani, also wrote a detailed letter to RIL Jan 12, 2006, terming the board resolution illegal, void and in variance with the de-merger scheme approved by the Bombay High Court.

Chalasani was among those present at the RIL board meeting of Jan 11 — that lasted just 5 minutes from 7.30 p.m. to 7.35 p.m. — and objected to the resolution adopted by the RIL board, the minutes of which were signed a day later and became the actual agreement.

These objections, however, were summarily rejected. “His pleas fell on deaf ears.”

The three-member bench has been hearing the dispute over the supply of 28 million units of gas for 17 years at $2.34 per unit to Anil Ambani-led RNRL from the gas fields off the Andhra Pradesh coast, awarded to Mukesh Ambani’s RIL.

The price, tenure and quantity were based on the 2005 family pact, but RIL subsequently said it could only sell the gas for $4.20 per unit, as this was the price, the company claimed, fixed by the government.

The Bombay High Court had earlier ruled in RNRL’s favour.

Jethmalani also pointed out that the oil ministry was yet to file its affidavit in the court despite directions by the three-member bench.

He said he was on the verge of completing his argument and had the oil ministry filed its affidavit, making explicit its stand on the issue, he would have replied to the points raised in the affidavit as well.

To this, Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, representing the oil ministry, told the court that the affidavit would be filed by Friday. The finalization of affidavit was getting delayed as three ministries were involved, he added.