Government demands to stop proposed deal with Saudi Aramco, Reliance heard in court

Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has strongly argued in the Delhi High Court to defend the government’s plea seeking to halt the proposed $ 15 billion deal with Saudi Aramco. The company says that this is an abuse of the court process, as no final arbitration decision has come on the dues of the company.

In August this year, RIL said that Saudi Aramco had entered into a non-binding agreement to buy a 20 percent stake in the company’s petroleum and chemical business for $ 15 billion. The government had argued before the High Court that an arbitration tribunal has ordered Reliance and its partners to pay $ 3.5 billion.

Reliance has said in the affidavit submitted against the government’s petition that this claim of the government is completely false. No arbitration tribunal has given any final verdict against the company and its partners. The company said in the affidavit, “The petition is a misuse of legal process.” It states that some amount is outstanding and is to be paid as a final decision.

In this case, the basis on which the amount has been calculated for the payment of arrears is neither mentioned in the decision of the arbitrator nor is there anything mentioned in the petition. According to the revised figures of its share in gas production, it has calculated the outstanding amount itself. In the case of production from the Panna-Mukta and Tapti oil-gas fields, the government’s $ 3.5 billion pending dues on the company has been cited as its basis.

In fact, a partial ruling was delivered by an international arbitration tribunal in October 2016. The decision came on the Panna-Mukta and Tapti Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) dispute between the Government of India, BG Exploration and Production India Limited and Reliance Industries. In that judgment, the tribunal had identified some issues related to the principles. However, it did not order payment of any outstanding dues. In this case, the arrears on behalf of the Tribunal (if any) will be determined only when a decision is reached on all related issues.

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