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 The special leave petition is permitted to be withdrawn,” the bench noted in its order.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.

We have intention to pay damages to Docomo: Tata

We have intention to pay damages to Docomo: Tata
We have intention to pay damages to Docomo: Tata

Tata Sons today told the Delhi High Court that it has every intention of paying the arbitral award of USD 1.17 billion in favour of Japanese telecom major NTT Docomo, but has been unable to do so due to lack of permission from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Even as Tata Sons made the submission before Justice S Muralidhar, RBI contended in the court that the shareholding agreement between the two companies permitting transfer of funds abroad was illegal as it violated Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) Regulations.

“It is not a question of permission, it is prohibition,” the lawyer for RBI said while seeking intervention by the central bank of India. However, Tata Sons said its agreement with Docomo was perfectly consistent with Indian laws.

The court, thereafter, issued notice to Docomo and Tata on RBI’s plea seeking intervention and listed the matter for hearing on December 21.

The issue pertains to the exit of Docomo from the two companies’ joint venture, Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL), for alleged breach of agreement by Tata and enforcement of the damages awarded by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) in favour of the Japanese company for the same.

The matter had gone to arbitration as Tata was unable to find a buyer for Docomo’s 26.5 per cent stake in TTSL for 50 per cent of the acquisition price, which came to around Rs 58.45 per share, and the Japanese company was not willing to accept the “fair market value”, of Rs 23.44, that the Indian company was willing to pay as per the shareholding agreement.

Under the agreement, either Tata had to find a buyer for Docomo’s shares at 50 per cent of acquisition price or buy its shares at fair market value, both leading to transfer of funds outside India which RBI has termed as illegal.

During the hearing, Tata said it wants to make payment as its reputation is at stake but at the same time does not want to “fall foul” of FEMA regulations. It also said that it has deposited the entire amount with the court which shows it was willing to pay it.

The court, however, wondered why Tata did not challenge the refusal by RBI if its reputation was at stake and said it was the obligation of the Indian company to explore some alternative structure to ensure payment to Docomo.

“Otherwise, it would mean if you invest money in India, you cannot take it back,” the court said when Tata said one alternative solution was to pay the money in India instead of transferring it out of the country.

( Source – PTI )

Mobile cos tell court they can’t provide call records

The special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act Court has been told by the Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) that it cannot provide call data records (CDR) to the accused of 2006 Mumbai train blasts case free.

The company told the court that its accumulated losses as of May 31, 2012 were Rs 3031.18 crore.

“If the cost of retrieving the CDRs is not allowed to be recovered, then the company which is already incurring huge losses, and ultimately its more than 4.5 lakh shareholders, would have to bear this cost,” said Prashant Padvale, the assistant manager, in an application.

Earlier four mobile service providers — Vodafone, Loop, Airtel and Tata — had filed application in the court seeking direction to the accused to pay a total of Rs 34 lakh for retrieving the CDRs.

But the defence lawyers said their clients would not be able to shell out the money, and it would not be in the interests of justice. As the prosecution was relying on CDRs, the defence must get them free, they argued.

Loop also filed an application today saying it is unable to bear the estimated cost of Rs 8 lakh for retrieving CDRs.

Earlier, the MCOCA court had rejected the demand of CDRs. When the accused moved the High Court, it directed the lower court to consider the demand afresh.

Seven coordinated blasts on Mumbai suburban trains on July 11, 2006 killed 188 people and injured 817 others. While ATS has arrested 13 persons, 15 accused are absconding.

Mobile Towers: NGT issues notice to American Corp

The response of American Tower Corporation Ltd has sought by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on a plea alleging that mobile phone towers across the country are being installed in violation of stipulated guidelines.
A bench comprising acting Chairperson Justice A S Naidu and expert member P C Mishra issued notice to the American company after a plea was moved to implead it as a party in the case.

“A petition has been filed to implead American Tower Corporation Ltd as respondent no 12. It is submitted that the said respondent is likely to be affected by any order passed in this case. Considering the submissions made the prayer is allowed.

According to the bench, “Notice on question of maintainability of the application be issued to the newly added respondent.”

The NGT was hearing Delhi resident Arvind Gupta’s plea alleging inaction on the government’s part in strictly implementing guidelines regarding installation of mobile towers in the country.

In his plea filed through advocate B P Tripathy, Gupta has alleged that “norms are flouted brazenly by all companies involved with installation of mobile towers” and the Department of Telecommunications has not been implementing the guideline while allowing setting up of the towers.

The NGT bench has also given the other parties in the case three more weeks to file their replies, after they sought more time, and has listed the matter for further hearing on January 17, 2013.

Earlier on November 21, the Tribunal had sought the response of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Ministry of Communications & IT, Ministry of Health, Securities and Exchange Board of India and telecom firms — Bharti Infratel Ltd, Airtel BSE 2.87 %, Idea, Vodaphone, Tata, Reliance and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.

The NGT on November 21 had restrained the telecom firms from setting up fresh mobile towers in the country without following mandatory provisions of law and obtaining the necessary permission from the competent authority.

In his original plea, Gupta has submitted that with the growth in the telecom sector the 3,76,000 mobile towers that existed at the end of March 2012 would increase to 420,000 by the end of March 2017.

He alleged that radiations emitted by towers not only adversely affect flora and fauna, but can also cause cancer in human beings.

Gupta has moved the Tribunal seeking directions to the Centre and the telecom firms for implementing guidelines and regulations issued by the MoEF regarding installation of cell phone towers nationwide.

He has also sought constituting of a high powered committee of experts to lay guidelines for limiting cell phone tower radiation before installing any new towers.


Court dismisses plea to make Tata, Ambani co-accused

The Delhi High Court Wednesday refused to hear a plea seeking direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to make industrialists Ratan Tata and Anil Ambani and lobbyist Niira Radia co-accused in the 2G telecom spectrum case.

“I will not pass any order. You argue at your own peril,” Justice Ajit Bharihoke said, asking Delhi-based journalist M. Furquan to withdraw his petition, which also sought similar directions on DMK chief M. Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal.

Furquan then decided to withdraw the petiton but requested the court to give him the liberty to approach the Supreme Court.

The court slammed the petitioner saying that since the CBI was already investigating the case, the plea abuses the due process of the court. “I may impose a fine for filing a rubbish plea,” the judge warned Furquan.

“I will not allow you to approach anywhere. Withdraw your petition.”Earlier, too, the special CBI court had rejected Furquan’s application seeking a similar order. Special Judge O.P. Saini said no third party would be permitted to “alter or interefere” with the on-going CBI probe in the case.

The court had noted that both the applications — one of them by Furquan and the other by a Delhi-based businessman — had failed to put forth any new evidence.

“Cognizance of the police case has already been taken and no further investigation can be ordered by the court at the instance of third parties, who are not even remotely connected with the issue,” the court had said.

“The police case cannot be altered beyond recognition at the instance of third parties, whose motives are unknown and (who) are also not in possession of any new evidence,” the court said and even imposed a fine of Rs.10,000 each on the petitioners.

“The applications are not only devoid of substance but contrary to law and deserve to be dismissed with heavy cost as applications after applications of this nature are being filed by third parties, resulting into loss of precious time of the court.”