Delhi's Taj Mansingh asks SC for stay on hotel auction

The Taj Mansingh Hotel approached the Supreme Court on Friday seeking a stay on the auctioning of its property located in the heart of Lutyen's Delhi.

Pursuant to a civic body meeting held on Thursday, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) decided to cancel the license awarded to Le Meridien and e-auction the luxury hotel over non-payment of dues.

According to senior officials, the hotel has dues of Rs526 crore (excluding taxes) as on January 2017, which it has not been able to clear despite several notices. The NDMC has also alleged major irregularities by the hotel.

In an earlier hearing, when the Tata group-owned Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL) had moved court against a Delhi High Court's ruling allowing the auction of the luxury hotel, the top court had asked the NDMC to reconsider its decision.

Senior Advocate Rajiv Nayar objected to the auction submitting that the hotel had the right of first refusal. However, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain countered by saying, "NDMC is planning to hold an e-auction where all the bids are open as opposed to a conventional auction where the bids are made in a sealed cover."

Speaking to DNA, Jain added that in this way the hotel would have the right to bid first. It could also take advantage of the transparency afforded in an e-auction and outbid its competitors.

In November 2016, the IHCL had moved the Supreme Court against a Delhi HC order allowing NDMC to auction Taj Hotel, arguing that there was no need to do so as it generates good revenue for the civic body.

Challenging this decision by the HC, the Tatas moved the SC, where it was directed to reconsider its decision on extending the lease of the iconic hotel. The matter will be next heard on 22 March.