The governments decision to double the natural gas price came under the judicial scanner on Monday,as the Supreme Court sought explanations from the Centre and its petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily over paying more to the Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) for extraction of natural gas from the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin.
A bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam also issued notices to the RIL and Niko the two companies currently exploring natural gas from the KG-D6 fields,and sought their replies on a prayer to forthwith relinquish areas of the KG basin,as recommended by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report and delineated by the Director General of Hydrocarbons (DGH).
The court sought replies from all the parties in four weeks while admitting a PIL by CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta and former Union power secretary EAS Sarma,who have demanded an intervention by the court in view of the arbitrary decision to hike the natural gas price despite various substantial objections to it.
At the moment,we want to examine the prayers in the petition. The issue has been brought to our notice by a senior Member of Parliament. We dont want to dismiss it in limine (at initial stage), said the bench,agreeing to examine the validity of the decision. Arguing for the petitioners,senior advocate Colin Gonsalves emphasised on Moilys reported insistence for a hike,claiming the minister chose to summarily overrule views of the senior officials of the ministry and his predecessor.