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Saikia refutes Himanta charge

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, July 19 - Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Debabrata Saikia today refuted as baseless the assertion made by Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma yesterday that it was because of a case filed by former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in 2013 with the Supreme Court of India against a verdict of the Gujarat High Court that Assam was deprived of its due royalty against the crude oil extracted from its oilfields.

Saikia said in a statement here that another assertion made by the State�s Finance Minister yesterday in this connection that former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had also failed to initiate any move to ensure payment of due oil royalty to the State, is also not based on facts.

The fact remains that the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGCL) had in 2014 filed a special leave petition against a 2013 verdict of the Gujarat High Court. The ONGCL is an autonomous organisation and neither the Union Government nor the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was involved with the case. The ONGCL had filed the special leave petition because of its poor economic condition.

The then Chief Minister of the State, Tarun Gogoi had written a letter on June 28, 2014, requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to persuade the ONGCL to pay oil royalty to Assam at par with the oil royalty it was paying to Gujarat since February 2014.

Since the Congress believes in �cooperative federalism�, the State Government led by it did not file any case with the court. But since the Union Government failed to respond to Gogoi�s letter, the State Government had filed a petition before the Gauhati High Court in November 2014 (6028/2014) and the Gauhati High Court on November 26, 2014 directed the Central Government and the State Government to mutually discuss the issue, said Saikia.

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