The government’s controversial decision to raise the price of natural gas came under judicial scrutiny with the Supreme Court today agreeing to examine the matter and issued notices to the Centre and Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).
The bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that the issue raised by the senior MP needs examination and the petition cannot be rejected at the initial stage.
The petitioners raised five issues related to RIL — viz., hoarding of gas; gold plating of expenditure; non-relinquishment of area; mala fide doubling of gas price and retrospective tax concession.
The petition sought a cancellation of production sharing agreement between RIL and the government in the KG Basin, besides a CBI or SIT probe into the matter.
The top court also tagged this petition along with the pending petition from the CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta on the same issue.
The new $8.4 mbtu price, which will be reviewed every three months, will apply to all the gas producers uniformly including state-owned firms like Oil India Limited (OIL) and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and private companies like RIL.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the MP, submitted that the decision to raise the price needs to be reviewed as the Petroleum Minister has over-ruled the opinion of senior officers of the ministry and his predecessor.
Dasgupta, who was present during the hearing, told reporters after coming out of the courtroom that he had to file the PIL as the Prime Minister failed to take any action on his complaint given to him.