All eyes on Supreme Court Chennai CGD ruling

Vol 23, PW 7 (13 Feb 20) People & Policy

Before the end of this month (February) the Supreme Court is expected to decide who should be awarded CGD-IX areas Chennai, Kanchipuram and Puducherry - ending almost a year of uncertainty.

On January 29 and 30 justices DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta heard senior lawyers for PNGRB, AG&P, Torrent, Adani Energy, SKN-Haryana City Gas and Chennai-based IMC argue over the main points of the dispute. All the litigants were asked to submit final written statements by February 3, extended to February 4, so the justices could deliver their ruling.

Still unclear is what decision they will finally take but sources speculate a likely outcome is that the awards will be scrapped and the areas offered again in a future CGD round. "This seems the best way out as no work has been done on the ground (in these disputed areas)," says a gas sector source.

"No loss will be caused to anyone by re-tendering these areas." On September 24 (2018) Adani Gas challenged the award of Chennai to Torrent Gas before APTEL, accusing the PNGRB of favouritism and an arbitrary exercise of power.

But on February 28 (2019) APTEL delivered a split verdict with member technical BN Talukdar supporting the PNGRB decision while chairperson Justice (Ms) Manjula Chellur said the disputed areas should be awarded to the second-ranked bidders. With no clarity, AG&P and Torrent appealed to the Supreme Court on March 28 (2019).