Final hearing on pleas challenging the government's decision to double the price of natural gas and seeking cancellation of Reliance Industries Ltd's contract for exploration of oil and gas from the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin commenced in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
RIL refuted the allegation of extraneous consideration for the increase in the gas price from 4.2 dollar to 8.4 dollar per mmbtu for the gas taken from the existing fields like KG D-6 basin.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for RIL before a bench headed by Justice B S Chauhan, said gas output from KG basin has fallen to 8 mscmd against expected 80 mscmd due to a "technical reason".
Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas M Veerappa Moily, who is named as one of the respondents in the petitions, will be represented by Solicitor General G E Vahanvati.
The bench, also comprising justices J Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph, is hearing the PILs filed by senior CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta and Common Cause, an NGO , which has sought imposition of penalty on private parties for failure in adhering to commitments.
The petitioners have also sought a direction for a thorough audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) of the working of the production sharing contract (PSC) governing KG block, gold plating by RIL, underproduction by it and all related issues.
During the hearing, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the MP, alleged collusion between the government and the company, saying RIL "is holding country's energy security to ransom".
He said natural resources belong to the citizens and the government.
Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Common Cause, supported Mr Dasgupta's arguments and referred to controversial intercepted telephonic conversations between former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with others to support the allegation of collusion.
They also submitted that government should not go ahead with the hike of gas price from April 1 and should wait for the conclusion of the upcoming general elections.
However, RIL said the general elections had no connection with the new gas pricing policy, the decision of which was taken in June last year.
The application filed Common Cause has asked the apex court to stay the decision of government to increase the gas price from 4.2 dollar to 8.4 dollar per mmbtu at least for the gas taken from the existing fields like KG D-6 basin.
The NGO urged that Centre should wait for the outcome of the two petitions pending before the apex court.