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BW Businessworld

Justice And Delays

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After six days of arguments, spread over two weeks, the Reliance Industries (RIL)-Reliance Natural Resources (RNRL) case has come back to the starting point.

Justice R.V. Raveendran — one of the three judges hearing the dispute regarding the price at which gas would be supplied by the Mukesh Ambani-owned RIL to the Anil Ambani-owned RNRL — recused himself citing his daughter Sunita Rajesh's employment in the law firm AZB & Partners, which has advised RIL in another matter.

The judge's decision to step aside was laudable. But the corollary is that the new three-judge bench will have to start hearing the arguments from scratch.

Nobody doubts that the case is important. The staggering sum of money involved makes it an issue that needs to be resolved — and quickly.

The flipside also is that the dispute between two business entities run by two estranged brothers is taking up a disproportionate amount of the Supreme Court's attention. This, in turn, means less time to dispose other cases that are waiting in the queue — more than 50,000 as of August 2009, according to the Supreme Court website. The pending cases could have moved forward if the marathon hearing hadn't happened. Now, the hearing is to be repeated. One only hopes that the RIL-RNRL dispute hearings will now go smoothly and finish in time, instead of dragging on and preventing justice from being delivered elsewhere.

The Supreme Court's time is precious, and any delay in the RIL-RNRL case will only result in wastage of the court's time.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 16-11-2009)

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