Jethmalani raises stakes in Ambani war over D6 gas

Vol 12, PW 7 (21 Aug 08) People & Policy

Ram Jethmalani is a former law minister and one of India’s best-known lawyers, with an ego to match, and a reputation for winning lost causes.

So it’s no surprise to see him in the thick of a court battle between Ambani brothers Mukesh and Anil over the rights to D6 gas, which resumed in the Mumbai High Court on August 12. In the large, well-ventilated wood panelled second floor courtroom No.

49, packed to capacity, PETROWATCH witnessed Jethmalani use his flair for the dramatic to argue for Anil before Mumbai High Court Justices JN Patel and KK Tated. “Mukesh Ambani should be prosecuted for criminal breach of trust,â€‌ demanded Jethmalani, to the surprise of judges and onlookers.

Explaining his inflammatory remark, Jethmalani said the (gas supply) agreement for D6 gas between (Mukesh’s) Reliance Industries and (Anil’s) Reliance Natural Resources was actually, “between Mukesh Ambani and Mukesh Ambani.â€‌ How come Jethmalani explained that when the gas supply agreement was signed on January 11, 2005 between RIL and RNRL, Mukesh was in control of both companies.

“Anil Ambani took independent charge of RNRL only on February 7, 2005,â€‌ he added. Jethmalani argued that the gas sale agreement between the two is effectively â€کnull and void’, adding that Anil is entitled to D6 gas under the terms of another agreement, the unpublished, â€کfamily separation agreement’ hammered out by their mother, Kokilaben Ambani, following the Reliance carve-up on the death of father Dhirubhai.

Jethmalani stressed that the Mumbai High Court has already approved this â€کfamily separation agreement’. He further alleged that Mukesh-controlled Reliance had prevented Anil from setting up the proposed 7480-MW Dadri power plant in Uttar Pradesh, to which Justice Patel interjected: “You say they prevented you from setting up the power plantâ€‌ Yes, replied Jethmalani.

“One of the terms of the (family separation) settlement is there should be a bankable contract for gas supply to Dadri.â€‌ The January 11, 2005 contract between RIL and RNRL, said Jethmalani, “has no certaintyâ€‌ about price, term, quantity of gas supplies and is a “useless piece of paper.