Asking the government to take cue from the recent judgement of the Supreme Court in the 2G scam case, Communist Party of India (Marxist) Rajya Sabha member Tapan Sen has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene in the matter of “serious defaults” committed by the Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) in the KG D6 block. He also called for re-examination of the entire issue, including the production sharing contract (PSC) and pricing of gas by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
In a letter to Prime Minister on February 7, Mr. Sen, who is also a member of the Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Gas, has said the apex court has held that natural resources are vested with the government as a matter of trust in the name of the people of India and it is the solemn duty of the state to protect the national interest and natural resources must always be used in the interest of the country and not for private interests.
“In view of the above reiteration of the Supreme Court on the duty of the state to protect the national interest vis-à-vis natural resource, I urge upon you again to please intervene in the case immediately so that reasonable price of natural gas is ensured in national interest and not for private interest. As a matter of fact, pricing of natural gas should be re-examined de novo by CAG based on actual cost of production at KG-D6,” he stated.
Referring to his earlier letter on January 16 on the issue to the Prime Minister, Mr. Sen said he had earlier also sought Dr. Singh's intervention on production sharing contract related to KG D6.
Citing a judgement in the RIL vs. RNRL case, (2010) 7 SCC 1, Justice P. Sathasivam with whom the then Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishanan agreed, made the following observations: “It must be noted that the constitutional mandate is that the natural resources belong to the people of this country. The nature of the word ‘vest' must be seen in the context of the public trust doctrine (PTD). Even though this doctrine has been applied in cases dealing with environmental jurisprudence, it has its broader application.”
Justice Sathasivam then referred to the judgments In Special Reference No. 1 of 2001(2004) 4 SCC 489, M.C. Mehta vs. Kamal Nath (1997) 1 SCC 388 and observed: “This doctrine is part of Indian law and finds application in the present case as well. It is thus the duty of the government to provide complete protection to the natural resources as a trustee of the people at large.”