NTPC shareholders move court on Reliance gas

NEW DELHI - Some shareholders of the state-run power utility NTPC moved a petition Monday seeking directions to its management from the Delhi High Court to ensure all legal steps are taken to get natural gas supplies from Reliance Industries at the contracted price.

The petition filed on their behalf by advocate R.N. Ramalingam also asks the court to order a probe into NTPC with regard to its contract with Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries for the supply of 12 million units of gas at $2.34 per unit from the Krishna-Godavari basin.

“NTPC and its officials are acting against the public interest and are acting in a manner that a huge wrongful profit will be made to Reliance Industries to the tune of Rs.25,000 crore at the cost of public exchequer,” the petition said.

The litigation was filed here while NTPC was advised by the government to move the Supreme Court to secure gas from Reliance Industries. The Bombay High Court is also hearing the matter.

Two top law officers of the government, Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati and Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, have already advised the company to move the apex court immediately to secure its interest in the gas row.

“NTPC should take all possible steps to protect its interest as advised by the solicitor general,” said Vahanvati over the weekend, endorsing the solicitor general’s legal opinion to the government.

Law ministry officials said the unanimous opinion of the two law officers has been forwarded to NTPC, which is a listed company that has 10.5 percent of its shares held by public and financial institutions.

“The fact that NTPC had to file a suit is a telling comment on the facts of the present case,” said Subramaniam.

“I regret to say that if international competitive bidding processes are intended to be treated with such disdain from responsible bidder (Reliance Industries), the world of business founded on trust and faith will break down.”

NTPC - as also Anil Ambani’s Reliance Natural Resources - are fighting a legal battle to get gas at $2.34 per unit from Reliance Industries, which has refused to do so, saying the government’s stand on price would frustrate the deal.

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