Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy has clarified that India is "free to take its decisions" on importing oil from Iran despite economic sanctions by the US to thwart Tehran's alleged military nuclear programme.
"We respect the UN sanctions against any country," Reddy told the Lok Sabha, adding that embargoes by other countries were not binding on the nation.
Iran is India's second largest oil supplier. But the US has been rallying for reduction of crude imports to force the Islamic republic to stop its military nuclear programme that Tehran says is only for civilian peaceful usage.
Reddy was asked by CPI-Marxist leader Basudeb Acharia if Indian oil companies had reduced crude imports from Iran since 2011.
To this Reddy replied: "We are importing oil from Iran. There could be less oil, more oil depending on requirements. It is for the (oil) company to decide. These things are not monitored by the government."
Reddy also said oil companies decide on the volume of crude imports "keeping in view various developments".
The minister said India's sovereignty was "supreme" and "we will never ever allow it to be affected in any manner".
Reddy initially took objection to Acharia's query and asked the "senior parliamentarian, with due deference to him", that he should have limited his supplementary to the basic question about the rates of cooking gas and petroleum products.
The remarks come days after a US Congressional report said that India had significantly reduced its imports of Iranian oil by volume from 16 per cent in 2008 to 10 per cent now.