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KG BasinDispute: SC Withdraws Australian Judge as Arbitrator
Apr 03, 2014

On April 2, the Supreme Court  withdrew the appointment of former Australian judge James Jacob Spigelman as a presiding arbitrator in disputes between Reliance Industries and the Centre over the shortfall in gas production in the KG basin and its consequential implications. Justice Spigelman's appointment was withdrawn after a senior counsel pointed out to the bench that the name of Jacob Spigelman topped the preferred list of arbitrators submitted by Reliance Industries.

The court had in its March 31 order said that it was not appointing anyone who was in the list of names suggested by the RIL and the government. However, the name of Justice Spigelman was in the list of the preferred arbitrators given by RIL.

Brushing aside objections to the appointment of a foreign arbitrator to preside over the arbitration proceedings, Justice Nijjar in his order had said, "Upon due consideration, I hereby appoint James Spigelman, former chief justice and lieutenant governor of New South Wales, Australia as the third arbitrator who shall act as the chairman of the Arbitral Tribunal".

The court which had sought the list of eminent individuals by RIL and the government so that one of them could be appointed as third arbitrator, appointed Justice Spigelman after carrying out a discrete survey.

Withdrawing the name of Justice Spigelman as the presiding arbitrator in RIL-Government dispute, the bench observed that it was an oversight and it would be appointing another presiding arbitrator in place of Justice Spigelman.

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