Bloomberg News

India Top Court Judge Withdraws From Hearing Cairn-Vedanta Suit

March 02, 2012

A judge in India’s top court said he’s pulled out from hearing a suit that seeks to declare Vedanta Resources Plc (VED)’s $8.67 billion acquisition of oil explorer Cairn India Ltd. (CAIR) as illegal.

There’s a conflict of interest, Justice H.L. Dattu said in the Supreme Court in New Delhi today while withdrawing from a two-judge panel that was to decide whether to admit the suit. He didn’t elaborate. Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia will assign the case to another panel at a later date, Rakesh Sharma, the court’s public relations officer, said by telephone.

The petition, submitted on behalf of Bangalore resident Arun Kumar Agrawal on Feb. 27, wants the court to order state- run Oil & Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) to buy a controlling stake in Cairn India. It sought an investigation into why ONGC didn’t buy the shares.

State-run ONGC, India’s biggest energy explorer, said in September its decision not to bid for Cairn India was based on legal and commercial considerations.

Vedanta, controlled by billionaire Anil Agarwal, is a metals and mining company with no previous experience in oil and gas projects. It completed the purchase of Cairn India, operator of the nation’s biggest onshore oil deposit, in December after the government approved the deal in June.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pratap Patnaik in New Delhi at ppatnaik2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sam Nagarajan at samnagarajan@bloomberg.net


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