Sucheta Dalal :SC judge withdraws from Bench hearing Ambani case
Sucheta Dalal

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SC judge withdraws from Bench hearing Ambani case  

November 4, 2009


In a dramatic turn in the Ambani brothers' gas dispute case, Justice RV Raveendran, a senior Supreme Court judge Wednesday withdrew from the Bench hearing the dispute saying his daughter is associated with a solicitor’s firm advising Mukesh Ambani group on other global projects, reports PTI.
A new Bench will be constituted tomorrow to hear the high-voltage case between Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Anil Ambani's Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL) relating to pricing of gas from the KG Basin.
"I am recusing myself from hearing this matter since I came to know only yesterday that my daughter is associated with a solicitor’s firm which is advising the Mukesh Ambani group in other matters relating to projects of global acquisitions," Justice Raveendran said when the matter came up.
The judge said that he came to know that law firm AZB partners in Bangalore with which his daughter is associated since 1st September this year is advising the Mukesh Ambani group in other projects.
The Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan adjourned the matter and decided to hear the matter afresh by constituting another bench tomorrow.
RNRL is seeking gas from RIL at rates 44% lower than Government-approved price. RIL says it cannot honour the commitment made in the 2005 family agreement due to Government's pricing and gas policies.
Justice Raveendran said, "The issue is my daughter is associated with a firm which is advising one of the parties in another project and I would not like to hear the matter.”
"My conscience is clear and I feel that justice should not only be done but seems to be done. That is the tradition of this court," he said.
"I am sorry that six days of valuable time of this court has been wasted," he said adding, "I wish that somebody should have brought to our notice earlier about my daughter's association with the firm."
Justice Raveendran, while recusing himself, said "till now only RIL was advancing the arguments and RNRL has not started. So it is not late to dissociate myself from hearing the matter."
Senior counsel Harish Salve and Ram Jethmalani appearing for Mukesh Ambani group RIL and Anil Ambani's RNRL respectively persuaded justice Raveendran to continue hearing the matter but he declined to do so.
Both the advocates told the Chief Justice if Justice Raveendran recuses himself, then he along with Justice P Sathasivam can continue hearing the matter.
However, the CJI said, "In the beginning I had said that this matter should be heard by a three judge bench.”
The court which decided to hear the matter afresh by constituting a bench tomorrow said that RIL would complete its arguments by 12th November.
When the hearing had started on 20th October, Justice Raveendran had offered to withdraw from the Bench, saying he had equal shares of both RIL and RNRL but the lawyers had said he should continue hearing the case.
–Yogesh Sapkale [email protected]

-- Sucheta Dalal