TATA group withdraws plea from SC on auctioning of Taj Mahal hotel

New Delhi:Tata Group-owned Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL) today withdrew from the Apex Court the plea challenging the Delhi High Court order which had upheld the tender procedure for the proposed e-auctioning of Delhi’s iconic Taj Mahal Hotel by civic body NDMC.

IHCL took back its plea after a vacation bench comprising justices L Nageswara Rao and M M Shantanagoudar indicated that it will not entertain the appeal as the e-auctioning of the hotel has not taken place.

“Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Mohan Parasaran, senior counsel appearing for the petitioner (IHCL) seek leave of this court to withdraw the special leave petition at this stage. The special leave petition is permitted to be withdrawn,” the bench noted in its order.

At the outset, the Tata group firm assailed the Delhi high court order and said the tender issued by New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), inviting bids for grant of leave and licence of the hotel situated at No.1, Mansingh Road here, should be quashed as it did not incorporate the apex court’s direction that the “unblemished track record” of the company be considered in the auctioning.

“Do you want extra weightage for this (unblemished track record). Who will then take part in the auction?,” the bench asked, adding, “how are you (IHCL) visualising that the NDMC will violate the Supreme Court order”.

“You (IHCL) can come to court later,” the bench said.

Singhvi said that the Tata group has been running the hotel for last 40 years and spent a lot of money on it and the apex court had taken note of it while saying that its unblemished record be considered in the e-auctioning.

The High Court, on May 22, had dismissed the plea of IHCL) challenging the tender procedure for proposed auctioning of the Hotel by the NDMC and had said that the eligibility conditions put in by the civic body are based on “thought and deliberation”.

The company has alleged that an essential condition with respect to its unblemished track record has not been properly factored into the eligibility conditions and it was in contravention of the April 20, last year order of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme court had on April 20 last year allowed the civic agency to e-auction the iconic five-star hotel.

The property, owned by the NDMC, was given to the IHCL on a lease of 33 years. The 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.

The NDMC had announced the e-auction of its premium hotels in Lutyen’s Delhi  Taj Mansingh, The Connaught and Hotel Asian International for a lease period of 33 years.

High Court disapproves of dumping garbage on roads as mark of protests

Expressing disapproval over the practice of dumping garbage on roads as a mark of protest, the Delhi High Court has said it was “completely intolerable”.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar was referring to the recent agitation by New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) contractual sanitation workers who dumped garbage outside prominent buildings, like Shastri Bhavan and Rail Bhavan in Lutyen’s Delhi, demanding regularisation of jobs and better wages.

The protesting workers on May 24 had also dumped garbage outside NDMC’s Convention Centre.

The garbage dumps had affected traffic in some areas.

Referring to the incident, the high court said,”This is no way of protesting. It is completely intolerable. It is also a public health issue.”

This is not the first time that municipal staff have resorted to this manner of protest.

A few years back sanitation workers of East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) had dumped garbage on roads and even prevented private players, temporarily hired by the civic body, from cleaning it up.

They were protesting against non-payment of wages for several months.

The high court had to step in and issue directions to ensure cleanliness in the areas under EDMC control.

High Court rejects IHCL’s plea against tender process to auction hotel

The Delhi High Court today dismissed a plea by Tata Group-owned Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL), challenging the tender procedure of the proposed auction of Delhi’s Taj Mahal Hotel by the NDMC.

The verdict was pronounced by a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla.

The court had reserved its arguments on May 3 after hearing arguments of the counsel for the IHCL and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) which had claimed that it had not prejudiced Tatas in any way.

The apex court had on April 20 last year allowed the civic agency to e-auction five-star hotel Taj Mansingh, currently being run by Tata Group firm IHCL, in the heart of the national capital.

The Tatas had moved the division bench of the high court against the September 5, 2016, 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 had submitted in the court that the NDMC has failed to consider the last year’s order of the Supreme Court that they had an unblemished track record.

The property, owned by the NDMC, was given to the IHCL on a lease of 33 years. The 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.

The NDMC had announced the e-auction of its premium hotels in Lutyen’s Delhi Taj Mansingh, The Connaught and Hotel Asian International for a period of 33 years.

Give stipulated period of time line for completing rail underpass in Karol Bagh: Delhi High Court

With construction of a railway underpass in Karol Bagh area here pending completion since its approval in 2010, the Delhi High Court today asked the Centre to hold a meeting of all stakeholders and give a time line within which the work would be finished.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued the direction to the Secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development after the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) informed the court that cost of the project has to be shared by the Centre also.

The court also issued notice to the ministry, Delhi government, NDMC, Delhi Development Authority and the Northern Railways

The project in question pertains to the construction of a Road Under Bridge, also known as a railway underpass, connecting Rama Road and Prem Nagar in Karol Bagh Zone and its foundation stone was laid in 2014, the court was told in a PIL which seeks a direction to the authorities to complete the work.

According to the petition, cost of the project was Rs 128 crore with an additional Rs 58 crore required for acquiring land for the work and the central government is expected to bear 80 per cent of the project cost and the rest is allocated by the agency involved, in this case NDMC.

The plea, by two residents of the area, has claimed that there is currently only a single road via a railway crossing for the residents of Prem Nagar to reach Rama Road and Najafgarh road.

The connecting road via the crossing opens only five to six times a day and the people are “forced to go straight through the railway track even when such crossing is not open, leading to the loss of many lives”, the petitioners, Shravan Kumar Chaubey and Dilip Kumar Gupta, have said.

The petition, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, has claimed that according to information received under the RTI Act, 514 accidents have taken place in which 436 people have lost their lives and 78 have been seriously injured between 2010-17 due to the lack of an underpass there.

“Despite sending reminders and representations to the authorities of various concerned departments the authorities have acted arbitrarily and have failed to start the construction of underpass knowing the fact that people are losing their lives due to lack of an underpass,” the petition has said.

The plea has also contended that the NDMC did not take up the project as it had no money to spare and “passed the onus to the urban development department of the Delhi government”.

It has sought directions to the Centre to release the funds required for the project and to finish it within a stipulated period of time.

Delhi HC seeks reports on illegal parking near Blind Relief Association

Delhi HC seeks reports on illegal parking near Blind Relief Association
Delhi HC seeks reports on illegal parking near Blind Relief Association

The Delhi High Court has asked the NDMC and police to ensure that no commercial activity is allowed on the roads outside the Blind Relief Association near Oberoi Hotel after it was alleged that illegal parking there was causing immense problems to the visually challenged.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar also issued notices to the Delhi government, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the traffic police of the area, seeking status reports on the issue before the next date of hearing on January 24 next year.

The court issued the direction on a letter written by senior advocate Dushyant Dave, seeking its intervention to stop illegal parking and commercial activities carried outside the Blind Relief Association on Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg.

Turning the letter into a public interest litigation (PIL), the bench said that for smooth movement of visually challenged persons, the area needs to be regulated. It asked the NDMC and police to ensure that no commercial activity is allowed on the roads there.

Dave’s letter, received by the high court on October 25, has highlighted the extraordinary problems and miseries faced by the visually challenged persons.

He has said that it was difficult for physically challenged persons to access the bus stop on either side of the road due to the heavy and fast moving traffic.

The association focuses on providing education and training to the visually challenged, enabling them to realise their potential and be self reliant.

His letter complained that the footpath is occupied by illegally parked vehicles in the area.

It said that due to ongoing construction at the hotel, the roads are blocked and barricaded.

“No action is being taken taken by the civil and police authorities to improve the situation including overflow of sewage water near the association,” he said.

The counsel has sought direction to construct an overhead footbridge to enable the visitors to the institute to commute comfortably.

He urged the court to ask the authorities not to allow stoppage of vehicles on road.

( Source – PTI )

Keep round-the-clock vigil at Sarojini Nagar market: NGT

Keep round-the-clock vigil at Sarojini Nagar market: NGT
Keep round-the-clock vigil at Sarojini Nagar market: NGT

The National Green Tribunal today directed the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to maintain a round-the-clock vigil at the Sarojini Nagar market here to ensure that vehicles are not parked on the streets around it.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the civic body and the traffic police to ensure deployment of appropriate force at the famous South Delhbi market place.

“You (traffic police) deploy force even at night so that people don’t park their vehicles on the road,” the bench observed.

The observation came after advocate Sakshi Popli, appearing for NDMC, told the tribunal that though people were parking their vehicles at the multi-level facility during the day, the shopkeepers were parking their cars on the roads at night.

She informed the bench that the NDMC was still facing non-cooperation from the local shopkeepers as they were unwilling to take monthly passes for the multi-level parking which costs around Rs 2,000.

The lawyer said additional police force should be deployed to ban surface parking in the market.

Advocate Tarunvir Singh Khehar, appearing for the Delhi traffic police, told the NGT that they have towed away 11,500 cars till date.

Rejecting a plea by the market association to park vehicles on the roads, the NGT had on November 17 banned parking in the market and said the violators would be fined Rs 5,000 as environmental compensation, in addition to the fines mentioned under the Motor Vehicles Act.

The green panel had directed the shopkeepers and the shoppers to park their vehicles at the multi-level parking lot built by the NDMC, which remains open round-the-clock.

The NGT had directed the corporation to consider reducing the parking fees for shopkeepers who live in the area.

It had also directed the NDMC to cancel the contract of the contractors engaged in surface parking business in the popular market.

It had directed the officials of Delhi Traffic Police and the enforcement department of the Delhi government to be present continuously for two weeks near the multi-level parking lot and ensure compliance of its directions.

( Source – PTI )

SC allows NDMC to e-auction Taj Mansingh hotel

SC allows NDMC to e-auction Taj Mansingh hotel
SC allows NDMC to e-auction Taj Mansingh hotel

The Supreme Court today allowed civic agency NDMC to e-auction five-star hotel Taj Mansingh, presently being run by Tata Group firm Indian Hotel Company Ltd (IHCL), in the heart of the national capital.

A bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman allowed the plea of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) that the Tata Group firm cannot have the right to refusal in the auctioning of the hotel.

The bench, however, asked the civic body to grant six months “breathing time” to the company in vacating the hotel in case they lose out in the e-auction.

The court also said that the “blemish-free” record of Tata Group firm IHCL may be taken into account by NDMC while auctioning the iconic property.

The civic body had on March 3 told the apex court that it wants to e-auction the hotel.

The court had earlier asked IHCL, which challenged a Delhi High Court order allowing auction of the hotel, to file objections, if any, within a week.

The IHCL had told the apex court that it was “not clear” why NDMC wanted to auction the prime property which gave the “best revenue” to it.

The company had submitted that NDMC expert report suggests that the council would “lose revenue” if the hotel was auctioned to other players.

The apex court had on November 21 last year directed that status quo be maintained with regard to NDMC’s auctioning process of Taj Mansingh Hotel.

The IHCL had on November 8 last year approached the apex court against the Delhi High Court’s order that cleared the decks for auctioning of the property.

( Source – PTI )

SC asks NDMC to reconsider its decision to auction Hotel Taj Mansingh

The Supreme Court today asked the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to reconsider its decision of auctioning the iconic Taj Mansingh Hotel in wake of the Attorney General and Solicitor General’s opinion not to initiate any such process.

The apex court noted the fact that the opinions of both the top law officers against the auctioning of the hotel was not placed before the Ministry of Home Affairs for consideration.

A bench of Justices Pinaki Ghose and R F Nariman also took note of the fact that there was also an internal opinion of the top office bearers of NDMC against the auctioning process.

“At this stage, we direct NDMC to reconsider its decision in view of its own internal opinion and the opinions of the Attorney General and Solicitor General. The report should be filed within six weeks,” the bench said.

During the hearing, the bench said that “the Attorney General and Solicitor General’s opinion was not looked upon by MHA. You (NDMC) have not placed the opinions before the ministry concerned. We do not know what the ministry would have said if the opinions were placed before it”.

It told Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain that NDMC has told the ministry that opinions of the AG and SG which have favoured extension of lease, are still awaited.

“It is strange and doesn’t look bonafide. The AG and SG’s opinions should have been placed before the ministry concerned,” the bench said.

It asked Jain whether NDMC agrees to reconsider the decision of going ahead with the auctioning process.

To this, the ASG said, “No, it can’t be done.”

“Why are you not agreeing to reconsider the decision. It not a matter of right. Do you not want to be fair to the party who has been paying the rent constinously for 30 years,” the bench said.

The Tata’s Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL), which has challenged a Delhi High Court order allowing NDMC to auction the hotel here, had earlier told the apex court that it was “not clear” why NDMC wanted to auction the prime property which gave the “best revenue” to it.

NDMC officer murder: 3 accused sent to jail till June 2

NDMC officer murder: 3 accused sent to jail till June 2
NDMC officer murder: 3 accused sent to jail till June 2

The owner of a four-star hotel in the city and two others, who were arrested in connection with murder of a 57-year-old estate officer of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), were today sent to judicial custody till June 2 by a Delhi court.

Metropolitan Magistrate Sheetal Chaudhary sent Ramesh Kakkar, owner of ‘The Connaught’ hotel and two others – Amir Alvi and Anwar Omais, who were produced in the court today, to Tihar Jail till June 2.

The court had yesterday sent four other accused – Saleem Khan, Ram Phool, Bilal and Israil to jail for 14 days after the police did not seek their custody.

The seven persons were arrested on May 18 for allegedly killing Mohammed Moin Khan, who was a lawyer and an assistant legal advisor with the NDMC, on May 16.

According to the police, the civic body had last year sealed the property leased by NDMC, on which ‘The Connaught’ was functioning, after the hotel authorities failed to abide by the eviction order following expiry of the lease.

The police had claimed that apprehending an unfavourable order, which would have resulted in huge monetary loss and eviction from the property, Kakkar had hatched a conspiracy to eliminate Khan, who was made the Estate Officer by High Court and was to pass an order in the lease matter on May 17.

Khan’s family had claimed there was tremendous pressure on him from his seniors to waive the penalty of around Rs 140 crore imposed on the hotel for violation of licence term, a matter which is still being probed by the police.

Police had claimed that Kakkar (48) had contacted Ram Phool (46), his body guard, and one Israil (31). Both of them were bouncers at Kakkar’s nightclub in Greater Kailash area, which was closed down around five years ago.

It had alleged that other arrested accused were roped in in the conspiracy to eliminate Khan.

During investigation, it has emerged that the property on which hotel The Connaught is functioning was taken on lease for setting up a 2-star youth hostel but the plan was changed and a hotel came up instead, attracting action from the civic body.

( Source – PTI )

High Court raps NDMC for non-compliance of order on sites

The Delhi High Court came down heavily on civic body New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) for not complying with its earlier order to construct boundary walls around four religious sites here.

A bench headed by Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw told that, We are of the considered opinion that the NDMC has undoubtedly not given due regard/weightage to the orders of this court and asked the civic body to construct walls around all four sites within one month.

On the plea of registered society Anjuman-e-Haideri, the court earlier on May 17 and September 25 last year had asked NDMC to construct walls around four sites: Chhoti Karbala, Dargah Shah-E-Mardan, Nakkarkhana and Kanati Masjid here.

The NDMC, in response to the contempt notice, said it has already constructed “the boundary wall with the assistance of Delhi Police in regard to two properties, being Chhoti Karbala and Kanati Masjid and is not in wilful disobedience of any direction qua the other two properties.”

It, however, did not construct walls around Dargah Shah-E-Mardan and Nakkarkhana saying it faced “certain difficulties” and they still persist.

Refusing to allow NDMC’s plea, the court told, “A litigant against whom orders have been made, does not have the option to comply or not to comply therewith and if facing difficulty in compliance, is required to immediately approach this court. Unless such rule is strictly followed, the orders of this court shall lose their sanctity.

According to the court, “Having observed so, but considering the nature of the dispute and the sensitivity of the matter involved and giving the benefit of doubt to NDMC, we dispose of this contempt petition with direction to NDMC to construct the boundary wall within one month hereof and in accordance with the demarcation report. If the order still remains un-complied, no further indulgence shall be shown.”