The Delhi high court asked the union government to show any statutory source or policy document which barred export of crude in India.
Justice Manmohan, hearing a case filed by Cairn India Ltd, a Vedanta group company, asked the government to back up its claim that crude exports are not permitted.
“After all, you’re restricting someone’s right to sell (crude). It has to be found in law or some contract,” Manmohan said. “Let me see the policy. When did you frame it?”
The court will hear the case next on 18 May, when a response from the government can be expected.
Cairn India moved the high court against the Director General of Foreign Trade seeking permission to be permitted to export excess crude it generated from the Barmer oil fields in Rajasthan.
Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta told the court crude oil per se was not allowed to be exported. He said that India had a total refining capacity of 223 million tonnes. However, at present only 38 million tonnes of crude oil is available. It would not be in the interest of the country to export crude, he argued.
He stressed that the issue of export of crude was entirely in the realm of policy.
Lawyer C.A. Sundaram, representing Cairn, said that they were agreeable to offering the domestic players in the country the first option to buy the crude, but at international prices. He said that neither the government, nor its nominees or public sector refineries were ready to purchase its crude and it was forced to sell to two private refineries—Reliance and Essar.
Sundaram said that Cairn had brought $10 billion as investment on promises. But it was being forced to sell at less than standard prices and was not allowed to export either.
Cairn India argued in earlier hearings that the foreign trade policy doesn’t bar export of crude.
However, Mehta said that the DGFT didn’t permit this export. Justin Gilbert Authentic JerseyShare This