The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal by a leading UK travel firm, Cox & Kings, contesting the decision to terminate a joint venture agreement for operating super luxury tourist train ‘Maharaja Express’.
In its appeal, Cox & Kings challenged the Delhi High Court order upholding the Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC’s) decision to terminate the agreement for operating the train.
A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and J Chelameshwar while declining to interfere with the high court order, however, said the disputing parties were at liberty to approach the Arbitration Tribunal to resolve their disputes.
IRCTC had maintained that the agreement was terminated due to breach in the agreement and poor occupancy rate of the train whose services were launched at an estimated cost of Rs 35 crore.
The train launched in 2010 is dubbed as India’s equivalent to the Orient Express of Europe, with a passenger capacity of 88, promises to offer an unforgettable ride with kaleidoscopic view of the landscape through its panoramic window and deluxe carriages with contemporary amenities, crisscrossing through Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Bikaner, Udaipur, Vadodara and Mumbai.
Cox & Kings had said the termination of the agreement was illegal and claimed that it has invested more than Rs 15 crores.
The Delhi High Court had rejected Cox & Kings plea following which it appealed in the apex court.
Dismissing the appeal, the apex court said, “It is no doubt true that the petitioner has invested large sums of money in the project, but that cannot entitle it to pray for and obtain a mandatory order of injunction to operate the train once the lease agreement/arrangement had been terminated”.
The court said it was unable to accept the submission that the agreement was akin to a partnership.
“Such submission had been rightly rejected by the Division Bench,” Justice Kabir writing the judgement said.