Earlier a three-day hearing by a panel of three retired Supreme Court judges heard arguments from both the government and the company.

Sterlite, a Vedanta subsidiary, bought 51% of Balco in March 2001 for INR5.5M ($11.9M), when the National Democratic Alliance government decided to sell the government’s stake in the public sector company. Sterlite had the right to buy the remaining stake after a three-year period, but ran into differences with the government over valuation.

In 2006, Sterlite asked the Delhi High Court for interim relief, to ensure the government did not sell the stake to anyone else. The high court asked for reconciliation and arbitration.

The government directed a committee of secretaries to explore ways to reconcile the issue. In May last year, the committee recommended that to discover the correct price of the stake in the unlisted company, the government should sell 10% in an initial public offer (IPO).

Sterlite, however, rejected the offer on the ground that it holds the right to buy the residual stake, so the dispute went to arbitration. If the arbitration fails, the case may be settled before a Supreme Court bench.