Poor teamwork scuttles PNGRB case against IGL

Vol 15, PW 24 (14 Jun 12) People & Policy

Blame a lack of internal communication for the Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board’s (PNGRB) humiliating defeat by Indraprastha Gas in the Delhi High Court.

On June 1 judges overturned an order issued by the Board on April 9 directing IGL to cut its network tariff and gas compression charges, throwing into question the PNGRB’s powers to regulate end-user retail gas prices. Well-placed sources say it would have been a different story had PNGRB secretary Ratan Watal - who issued the order to IGL - sought advice from member legal YPC Dangay.

Member commercial PK Bishnoi, who drafted the order, wrote an official note to Watal asking him to get legal approval, we hear. The court’s decision hinged on a poor choice of words in the last paragraph of the PNGRB order directing IGL to lower its gas price in line with a recommended 63% reduction in network tariff and compression charges.

This ambiguous wording, argued IGL’s lawyers, implied the PNGRB was interfering in gas pricing and exceeding its authority. Convinced, the court overturned the PNGRB order against IGL.

When contacted, PNGRB chairman S. Krishnan struck a philosophical note.

“There’s no point blaming anyone,” he said. “Our (March 15) decision to fix network tariff and compression charges was unanimous.

” Yet some think Krishnan is trying to shield Watal to cover his own back. “Krishnan told Watal not to bother about legal department approval,” we hear.

It’s not yet clear if the PNGRB will appeal to the Supreme Court against the Delhi court’s decision.