India tried to assuage Kremlin's sense of hurt over the sinking of its investments in a telecom venture by assuring that it would have an “adequate reply” ready when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets Russian President Vladimir Putin here on Monday.
Foremost on Mr. Putin's list of things to resolve is the case of Sistema whose licence were among the several cancelled by the Supreme Court following the 2G scam. The Russian government holds 17.14 per cent stake in the company which has invoked its right under the Indo-Russian Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) to go for international arbitration and seek damages from the Indian government.
Explaining the government's position an hour after Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin made an emotional plea to resolve the issue, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said New Delhi was sensitive to Moscow's concerns and was hopeful it would be eventually addressed. “There is no time line. When the Prime Minister meets Mr. Putin and when this topic comes up, we would have an adequate reply ready which will bring some comfort. This isn't an insurmountable issue,” he assured.
Mr. Khurshid explained that the executive could not influence the court — “the separation of powers is something that we can't wish away” — and it will make a reference to the Supreme Court when it reopens after the winter break.
“The structure of governance and state may not be exactly the same for all countries. So something done by courts, may be seen [by Russia] as done by the state. We see courts as autonomous and independent of state,'' said Mr. Khurshid while assuring that the Supreme Court would be made aware that it did not answer one crucial question — “what happens to investments coming under the ambit of a government-to-government investment protection treaty?”
“If we had that answer we might be in a happier position. Since that question was not answered, we will bring to the notice of the Court as soon as it reopens,” said the Minister. But he saw another difficulty coming in the way of a quick reply — of the Bench of five that handled the issue, one judge would have retired by then and another on the verge of superannuating.