A single judge bench of the Delhi High Court has sought the reply of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL) and its partners to a petition filed by the government accusing the former of unjust enrichment to the tune of $1.729 billion by illegally drawing gas from deposits in neighbouring blocks, reports the Financial Express.
The consortium of RIL and its partners – UK-based BP Plc and Niko Resources of Canada had previously been taken to arbitration by the government in the same ‘gas migration dispute’ for using its KG-DWN-98/3 block in the KG basin in the Bay of Bengal to drain and sell off migrated gas from adjoining ONGC blocks – Godavari PML and KG-DWN-98/2.
The three-member arbitration tribunal was led by Lawrence Boo from Singapore and granted an award favouring the consortium in a 2:1 split, stating that the production sharing contract (PSC) does not restrict the contractor from producing gas from wells located in its block from any source. The government was also held liable to pay the company $8.3 million to compensate it for arbitration cost.
In the high court petition, Attorney General KK Venugopal has sought for setting aside of the arbitral award, stating that the “the award strikes at the heart of the public policy and has given a premium to a contractor (RIL) that has amassed vast wealth by committing an insidious fraud as well as criminal offence…”
As per the petition, RIL has unjustly enriched itself with about $1.729 billion till now and still continues to produce gas from the migrated deposits. The court will be issuing directions in the matter on 15 December.
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