The Supreme Court restrained the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) from auctioning the iconic Taj Mansingh Hotel on Monday as it put on hold an order of the Delhi high court that allowed it.
A bench headed by justice PC Ghose declined to stop the hotel, run by Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL), from accepting bookings beyond March 31, 2017.
“We can’t disrupt a running hotel like this. Our order is passed keeping in mind the balance of convenience for both the parties,” the bench told additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, who on behalf of NDMC, said the hotel should not continue with bookings.
The bench fixed January 10, 2017, for hearing IHCL’s appeal against the high court order, in which the company said the NDMC did not consider its offer to continue running the hotel at market price.
The civic agency and the company have locked in a legal tussle over the property, which the NDMC owns.
The property lease, which was given to IHCL for 33 years, ended in 2011. Thereafter, the company was given nine temporary extensions on various grounds, three of them in the last year itself.
In January this year, the civic agency said it was in the process of assessing the hotel’s assets in preparation for the much-delayed auction.
During Monday’s proceedings, Jain dismissed the IHCL’s offer saying the council had taken a decision to not let the hotel run any longer. “There is no inherent right vested in IHCL to demand renewal of its license,” he told the bench, which also directed the NDMC to not start eviction proceedings till the next hearing.
IHCL refrained from making any comments after the proceedings.
“We have taken note of the honorable court’s decision delivered today. We have nothing further to add as the matter remains sub-judice. We have complete faith in the judiciary & the legal system of the country,” a spokesperson for Indian Hotels said.
The company had on November 8 approached the apex court against the high court order, clearing the auction. A single-judge bench of the HC had on September 5 dismissed IHCL’s plea saying the company has “no right” for renewal of the licence period and the NDMC was “within its power” to secure maximum consideration for grant of licence for the property situated at the prime location of 1, Man Singh Road in Lutyen’s Delhi.
IHCL had then moved the division bench of high court, but lost again.