DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Thursday gave the go-ahead to the New Delhi Municipal Council to proceed with the auction of the Tata Group-run Taj Mahal Hotel on Mansingh Road, dismissing aplea of the group arm Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) against a September 5 verdict.
The ruling, while opening up the possibility of a slew of investors and hotel chains lining up to buy the marquee property, also potentially paved the way for the matter to be escalated to the Supreme Court, reports The Economic Times.
“Our appeal has been dismissed. I haven’t received any instructions on the next course of action yet,” Rishi Agrawala, counsel for IHCL told ET. Agrawala had earlier told ET that the matter will ultimately be settled in the Supreme Court.
IHCL had filed an appeal with a divisional bench of the high court against the September 5 order of a single-judge bench of the court which allowed a public auction of the hotel by NDMC.
The property, owned by NDMC, was given to IHCL in 1978 on a lease of 33 years. Ever since the lease lapsed in 2011, IHCL has been running the hotel on a series of temporary extensions. In 2011, the union urban development ministry suggested an open bidding process for managing the hotel and providing the right of first refusal to Indian Hotels, allowing it to match the highest bid. The home ministry later said such an arrangement would lower revenue in the auction.
“As long as there is no right of first refusal, we would definitely be interested,” said Patu Keswani, chairman of mid-market chain Lemon Tree Hotels.