In a relief to Tata Group’s hospitality arm Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), the Supreme Court on Monday restrained NDMC from going ahead with the auction process of the iconic Taj Mansingh hotel and also from initiating eviction proceedings against the company for vacating the five-star property in the Capital.
A bench comprising justices Pinaki Ghose and UU Lalit, while seeking response from the civic body, also asked it to maintain status quo with regard to auctioning of Taj Mansingh until further direction.
“For 18 months (during the pendency of the case in the Delhi High Court) you have not auctioned it, then hold your hand for next two months,” the bench observed.
While posting the matter for further hearing on January 10, the judges asked additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, appearing for the NDMC, not to “arm-twist” the IHCL, which has been running the five-star hotel in one of the prime locations in Central Delhi, Mansingh Road, for 33 years.
The apex court also refused to restrain IHCL from making fresh bookings after March 31, saying that “it cannot be stopped as it is a running hotel. Everything will be decided when we hear the matter”.
Seeking renewal of licence on grounds of the equity investment it had made in the property, senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the IHCL, told the court that Tatas have built and created the brand and someone else may not be even able to pay as much.
However, Jain told the court that IHCL has no inherent or vested right to renewal as the agreement expired 33 years ago.
The Tata Group has challenged the Delhi High Court’s last month’s order that allowed the Delhi municipal body to go ahead with the auctioning of the Taj Mansingh hotel here.
According to IHCL, the HC has erroneously ignored the August 1, 2011 directions of the urban development ministry, the owner of the land, that the hotel property be put to auction to determine the market price of the licence fee and the Tata company be asked to match the highest bid if it wished to continue to operate the hotel.