Millennium Post

SC judge recuses from hearing PIL against price rise of gas

A Supreme Court judge on Monday recused himself from hearing a plea against the Centre and Reliance Industries Ltd on government's controversial decision to raise the price of natural gas.

'Not before me,' Justice H L Dattu said when a PIL, filed by civil society members including former Cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian and ex-Naval chief Admiral L Ramdas, came up for hearing before a bench headed by him.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner submitted that a similar matter is pending before a bench headed by the chief justice and pleaded that the matter be also transferred to that bench.

Justice Dattu, however, refused to pass any order and said, without giving any reason, that he cannot hear the case.Alleging 'collusion between Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and the political establishment', the petitioners sought an inquiry on why the Centre did not take any action against the company for its misconduct.

'Issue order directing a thorough investigation by an SIT or CBI under the supervision of this court, into the high level collusion between RIL and the political establishment and the corruption involved, as has been highlighted in the instant petition, including on the aspects of not taking any action against RIL for its misconduct,' the petitioners said in the PIL.

The petitioners, who included former secretary Ramaswamy Iyer and NGO Common Cause, also sought direction for a thorough audit by CAG of the working of the PSC governing KG block, gold plating by RIL, the underproduction by RIL and all related issues.

A similar petition was earlier filed by CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta and the apex court had on July 29 issued notice to the Centre and RIL.

The government recently decided to increase the price of natural gas from $4.2 per million British thermal unit (mbtu) to $8.4 mbtu from 1 April, 2014. 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.
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