No ambiguity in gas price, quantity and tenure: RNRL (Second Lead)

New Delhi, Nov 24 ( There was no ambiguity in the agreed price, tenure and quantity of natural gas to be supplied by Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) from the Krishna-Godavari fields, counsel for Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL) told the Supreme Court Tuesday.

“The only issue in the case was the absence of a bankable agreement,” RNRL counsel Ram Jethmalani said, continuing with his arguments before the three-judge bench of the apex court on the high-profile gas dispute case.

Nevertheless, the issue of bankable agreement was created by the business reorganization pact within the Ambani family, counsel argued, while also accusing RIL of going back on its gas supply pact with the state-run power utility NTPC in a similar case.

“There was no suggestion by anybody that let’s fix a price — which is agreeable to the government,” said Jethmalani, adding, “There was no reference of the production sharing agreement either” between the government and RIL.

To endorse his assertion that the price, tenure or the quantity of the gas was never an issue, he also quoted from various communications from Kokilaben, the mother of Mukesh and Anil, to execute a bankable agreement on the basis of the family pact.

RNRL also accused RIL of disputing its gas supply agreement with NTPC to renege from its commitment to supply gas at $2.34 per unit to RNRL.

Jethmalani told the apex court that the Ambani brothers had held a meeting for expeditious execution of a bankable agreement and its outcome was conveyed to Kokilaben by Anil Ambani, the younger brother.

According to him, the younger brother told his mother that Mukesh had assured him of his commitment to the family pact but a day before it was to be signed June 18, 2005, the dispute with NTPC was created.

Citing various communications in the run-up to the split in the Reliance empire founded by late Dhirubhai Ambani, Jethmalani said one of the RIL directors, P. Ganguly, should be prosecuted for filing a wrong affidavit denying the knowledge of the family pact.

He said the family pact was also accepted and approved by the board of directors June 18, 2005. And as per the one of the terms of the board resolution of the same day, Anil Ambani was to be reinstated on the RIL board if the scheme of demerger did not work out as per the family pact.

Earlier in the day, Anil Ambani made a surprise presence in the courtroom when the bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and Justice P. Sathasivam was hearing the case.

“My presence in the honourable Supreme Court today reflects my deepest regard and respect for our judiciary,” he told reporters after emerging from the courtroom.

“I have come here today not just on my own behalf but on behalf of the nearly 11 million shareholders of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group — the largest shareholding family in the world — whose interests will be directly affected by the outcome of this case.”

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.

Citing various provisions of corporate laws, Jethmalani told the court that it not only had “the power but also the duty to enforce a contractual agreement if one side was trying to put some roadblock in its execution”.

He also made a fervent plea to enforce the terms of the family business reorganization pact, which he said Mukesh Ambani group was trying to back out for malafide reasons.