If gas seeps from one firm's gas block to an adjacent gas block belonging to another company, which then extracts the gas and sells it, is it fraud?
That is the bone of contention between state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and a consortium led by Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries limited.
Now the Delhi High Court has delivered a verdict in favour of the private players, and rejected ONGC's claim that Reliance, BP and Canada's Niko have siphoned off its gas.
Reliance cleared of any wrongdoing
The court dismissed the petition by ONGC, accusing the trio of insidious fraud and unfair enrichment worth $1.73 billion.
In 2016, the ONGC had alleged that Reliance and its partners had exploited the gas which had seeped into their block from its own.
The Union Oil Ministry had then demanded $1.47 billion from the consortium for unfairly taking the gas belonging to ONGC in the Bay of Bengal.
Government ordered to pay compensation
In 2018, an international arbitration tribunal had also ruled in favour of Reliance, BP and Niko, and ordered the ministry to pay $8.3 million as compensation to the consortium.
The central government had approached the High Court with a petition to strike off the arbitration awarded to Reliance and its partners, but the court has upheld that verdict.
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