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NEW DELHI: In a dramatic turn in the Ambani brothers' gas dispute case, Justice R V Raveendran, a senior Supreme Court judge on Wednesday withdrew from the Bench hearing it saying his daughter is associated with a solicitors firm advising the Mukesh Ambani group on other global projectsA new Bench will be constituted on Thursday to hear the high-voltage case between Mukesh Amabani's RIL and Anil Ambani's RNRL relating to pricing of gas from K G Basin. "I am recusing myself from hearing this matter since I came to know only yesterday that my daughter is associated with a solicitors firm which is advising the Mukesh Ambani group in other matters relating to projects of global acquisitions," Raveendran said when the matter came up. The judge said that he came to know that law firm AZB partners in Bangalore with which his daughter is associated since September 1 this year is advising the Mukesh group in other projects. The Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan adjourned the matter and decided to hear the matter afresh by constituting another bench tomorrow. Justice Ravendran said, "The issue is my daughter is associated with a firm which is advising one of the parties in another project and I would not like to hear the matter". "My conscience is clear and I feel that justice should not only be done but seems to be done. That is the tradition of this court," he said. "I am sorry that six days of valuable time of this court has been wasted," he said adding, "I wish that somebody should have brought to our notice earlier about my daughter's association with the firm." Justice Raveendran, while recusing himself, said "till now only RIL was advancing the arguments and RNRL has not started. So it is not late to dissociate myself from hearing the matter." Senior counsel Harish Salve and Ram Jethmalani appearing for Mukesh Ambani group RIL and Anil Ambani's RNRL respectively persuaded Justice Raveendran to continue hearing the matter but he declined to do so. Both the advocates told the Chief Justice if Justice Raveendran recuses himself, then he along with Justice P Sathasivam can continue hearing the matter. However, the CJI said, "In the beginning I had said that this matter should be heard by a three-judge bench. The court which decided to hear the matter afresh by constituting a bench tomorrow said that RIL would complete its arguments by November 12. When the hearing had started on October 20, Justice Raveendran had offered to withdraw from the Bench, saying he had equal shares of both RIL and RNRL but the lawyers had said he should continue hearing the case. RNRL is seeking gas from RIL at rates 44 per cent lower than government-approved price. RIL says it cannot honour the commitment made in the 2005 family agreement due to government's pricing and gas policies.
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