SC asks Ambanis to settle gas row through ‘suitable arrangement’

      The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked why the Ambani brothers cannot settle their gas supply row through a “suitable arrangement.” During a hearing of the dispute over supply of gas by RIL to RNRL at 2.34 dollars per mmBtu, the bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said the two parties could arrive at a "suitable arrangement" through arbitration. The case between Reliance Industries, headed by Mukesh, and the Reliance Natural Resources Ltd, led by Anil, is over a deal to sell gas from the Krishna Basin Reserve to the Reliance Natural Resource Limited (RNRL) at below-market rates as per a family settlement. RIL headed by Mukesh, told the court that it considered the government's gas utilisation and pricing policy as the "suitable arrangement." RIL counsel Harish Salve also opposed Reliance Natural Resources Ltd's plea for dismissing RIL's petition, saying only his client's creditors or members of the Board can challenge maintainability of the petition. Salve said RNRL was a third party and hence, cannot seek dismissal of RIL's plea. RNRL has also separately challenged the government's petition in the dispute. Just ten days ago, Anil made a surprise truce offer to resolve the dispute amicably. But with Mukesh rejecting Anil's olive branch, the action has now moved to the Supreme Court. In a statement on October 11, Anil said all disagreements could be resolved within weeks, but RIL questioned the sincerity of the offer made "through the public domain" and said Anil could have easily contacted his elder brother directly. RIL also asked Anil to demonstrate the bonafide of his intentions behind the latest overture, adding it welcomes this positive indicator and will not be found wanting in responding to them constructively. The latest tussle between the feuding brothers, which stems from the 2005 break-up of the Reliance empire built by their father, has raised concerns it could discourage investment in the sector as India scrambles to shore up its energy security. The Government had earlier made a petition to intervene in the case, arguing that the gas is 'state property' and that the private agreement between the Ambanis over the gas is not valid.

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