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Ambani spat judge steps down due to AZB conflict

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A Supreme Court judge on the Ambani brothers' gas supply dispute has stepped down, fearing a conflict of interest because of his daughter recently joining AZB & Partners in Bangalore as a partner.

Justice R.V. Raveendran recused himself from sitting on the panel of three judges.

"I do not want to be a party to this case," he said according to news wire Bloomberg.

"Yesterday, I spoke to my daughter who is in Bangalore and she works with AZB & Partners, which is advising Reliance Industries on other projects for global acquisitions."

His daughter Sunitha Rajesh joined AZB as a partner on 1 September as a part of AZB's merger with the practice of Bangalore lawyer Anup Shah.

She declined to comment when contacted.

AZB has been a long-standing adviser to Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).

The bench in the dispute will have to be reshuffled to replace Justice Raveendran. According to Bloomberg his successor will be named later today.

The complex case was first brought to the courts by RNRL in November 2006 over a 17-year supply contract that would see RIL supply gas to RNRL at a fixed price of $2.34 per million British thermal units (mBtu).

Anil Ambani's Reliance Natural Resources Limited (RNRL) is being represented in the Supreme Court by senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, with senior counsel Harish Salve arguing for RIL.

Mumbai-based Mulla & Mulla was the law firm representing RNRL in its Bombay High Court victory (as first reported by Legally India on 16 June).

However, RIL has now instructed Delhi-based Mahesh Agarwal of Agarwal Law Associates as its law firm counsel.

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