SC allows NDMC to auction of Tata-run Taj Mansingh hotel

In an earlier hearing the apex court had asked NDMC to reconsider its decision as the IHCL had approached the apex court against a Delhi high court’s ruling allowing the auction of Taj Mansingh Hotel

In a major blow to the Tata Group, the Apex Court has upheld the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) to e-auction the Taj Mansingh Hotel, thereby rejecting the company's plea to renew the lease of the hotel.

The court made it clear in its order that the civic body must allow a six-month breather in case Tata Group loses the e-auction.

IHCL had moved the Delhi high court first in April 2013, seeking to restrain the NDMC from auctioning the hotel after a committee declined to renew the licence in its favour for 30 years (See: Centre nulls move to give Tatas priority in Delhi's Taj Mansingh auction).

The IHCL, which runs the Taj Mansingh Hotel, on November 8, 2016, approached the apex court against the Delhi High Court order, which had paved the way for auctioning off the historic property.

A bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman allowed the plea of NDMC that IHCL can not have the right to refusal in the auctioning of the hotel.

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Indian Hotels' opposition had so far delayed moves by the owners NDMC to auction the prestigious property at the heart of Lutyen's Delhi. "We respect the decision of the honourable Supreme Court and intend to participate in the e-auction when it is held". The company had submitted that the NDMC expert report suggests that the council would "lose revenue" if the hotel was auctioned to other players.

The Tata group and the NDMC had 33-year lease agreement to run the five-star hotel.

The IHCL had moved the division bench of the high court against the September 5 previous year judgment of a single judge who had not acceded to the firm's request for renewal of license for a further period, saying it was not entitled for the extension.

In January, the Supreme Court had directed NDMC to review its decision.

For IHC, the asset is estimated to generate annual revenue of about Rs 150 crore. Additional investments went in to modernise the property. Currently, through five insurance companies and Special Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India (SUUTI), the government holds almost a third of ITC's equity, worth over Rs 1 lakh crore. The civic body had selected the SBI Cap as its transaction adviser.

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