Supreme court allows e-auction of Taj Mansingh

Supreme court allows e-auction of Taj Mansingh

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, permitted the New Delhi Municipal Council to e-auction the Taj Hotel on Mansingh Road in the capital following the expiry of the licence granted to the Tata group to run the hotel.

However, the bench asked the civic body to grant six months as "breathing time" to the company for vacating the hotel if they lose out in the online auction.

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

Last month, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) had told the Supreme Court that it has made a decision to e-auction the Taj Mansingh Hotel.

A Bench, comprising Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and RF Nariman, set the stage for the e-auction when they rejected IHCL's challenge to the NDMC auction proposal. "IHCL will be allowed to participate in the bid and also match the highest offer", additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain told the court on Thursday.

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The High Court had dismissed IHCL's petition challenging the move by the NDMC to auction the property. "Smaller players like us will be subdued, as we wouldn't look at it as a trophy acquisition", said Patu Keswani, chairman of Lemon Tree Hotels.

IHCL had on November 8 previous year approached the apex court against the Delhi High Court's order that cleared the decks for auctioning of the iconic property. The official further said that IHCL will participate in the auction as and when it is scheduled.

The court said the NDMC will keep in mind that the IHCL has an unblemished track record in hotel management. The original licence operated for a period of 33 years from late 1976 to 2011. Right of first refusal is a contractual right that gives its holder, in this case Taj, the option to enter a business transaction with the owner, in this case NDMC, before the owner is entitled to enter into that transaction with a third party.

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.

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