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Hotel Taj Mansingh: Supreme Court Orders Status Quo

IHCL, which runs the Taj Mansingh hotel in the national capital, had on November 8 approached the apex court against the Delhi High Court order that cleared the decks for auctioning of the iconic property

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The Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL) will continue to run iconic Taj Mansingh hotel situated in the heart of national capital for now as the Supreme Court has ordered status quo and restrained NDMC from auctioning the property.

A bench of Justices P C Ghose and U U Lalit also refused to accept the prayer of the civic body that the premier hotel be restrained from taking any fresh booking beyond March 31.

"After looking at the facts and circumstances of the case and balancing the situation, we direct status quo with regard to the hotel," it said.

Regarding the prayer of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) that no fresh booking in the hotel should be allowed, the bench said, "It is very difficult to restrain fresh bookings for a running hotel. Everything will be decided when we hear the matter in January."

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the IHCL, said that they were ready to pay "any price" for the hotel, but they should get the first right for refusal.

"I (IHCL) have built the brand, I have created the brand, at least tell me a price. If I unable to pay or refuse to pay then you (NDMC) can proceed as you wish. They should give me first right of refusal," Salve said.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for NDMC, said that the property was owned by the civic body and was given to IHCL on a lease of 33 years which expired in 2011.

He said that IHCL has no vested right for renewal of licence from the civic body and the only right they have got is that they can seek for renewal which is upto the NDMC for consideration.

"We are the licensor. We paid for the building and we paid for everything. They do not have any vested right to seek renewal of license. It was upto the NDMC to consider whether to renew their license or not," Jain said.

The bench, however, posted the matter for further hearing in the second week of January, saying everything will be decided "when we hear the matter".

IHCL, which runs the Taj Mansingh hotel in the national capital, had on November 8 approached the apex court against the Delhi High Court order that cleared the decks for auctioning of the iconic property.

The firm had challenged the October 27 verdict delivered by a division bench of high court which had dismissed IHCL's petition challenging the move by NDMC to auction the property.

The high court had dismissed IHCL's plea, saying the company has "no right" for renewal of the licence period and NDMC was "within its power" to secure maximum consideration for grant of licence for the property situated at the prime location of 1, Man Singh Road in Lutyen's Delhi.

IHCL had moved the division bench of high court against the September 5 judgement of a single judge who had not acceded to the firm's request for renewal of licence for a further period, saying it was not entitled for the extension.

The IHCL lease had ended in 2011 and the company was given nine temporary extensions since then on various grounds, with three of them granted last year itself.

NDMC had in January this year said it was in the process of assessing the assets of the hotel in preparation for the much-delayed auction.

IHCL had earlier approached the single judge bench seeking a decree of permanent injunction restraining NDMC from interfering in any manner with the possession, right to operate, run and maintain the hotel premises.

(PTI)


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