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 The special leave petition is permitted to be withdrawn,” the bench noted in its order.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

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