SC lets NDMC auction Taj Mansingh Hotel, IHCL withdraws plaint

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere with a Delhi high court order permitting the e-auction of the iconic five-star hotel allowing the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to go ahead with the auctioning of the Taj Mansingh Hotel.

The vacation bench of justice L Nageswara Rao and justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar refused to accept the Indian Hotel Company Ltd’s (IHCL) plea that NDMC should mention in the bid documents weightage for its unblemished record in its dealings with the NDMC and its capabilities in running the hotel.
Tata Group-owned IHCL also withdrew its plaint challenging the Delhi High Court order, which had upheld the tender procedure for the proposed e-auctioning of Delhi's iconic Taj Mansingh Hotel by civic body after the SC vacation bench indicated that it will not entertain the appeal as the e-auctioning of the hotel has not taken place.
"Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Mohan Parasaran, senior counsel appearing for the petitioner (IHCL) seek leave of this court to withdraw the special leave petition at this stage. The special leave petition is permitted to be withdrawn," the bench noted in its order.
IHCL wanted NDMC’s tender inviting bids for grant of leave and licence of the hotel situated at No 1, Mansingh Road in New Delhi, be quashed as it did not incorporate the apex court's direction that the "unblemished track record" of the company be considered in the auctioning.
"You (IHCL) can come to court later," the bench said.
Presenting IHCL’s case before the bench, Singhvi said that the Tata group has been running the hotel for last 40 years and spent a lot of money on it.
The company has alleged that an essential condition with respect to its unblemished track record has not been properly factored into the eligibility conditions and it was in contravention of the Supreme Court order of 20 April 2017.
The High Court, on 22 May, had dismissed the plea of IHCL) challenging the tender procedure for proposed auctioning of the Hotel by the NDMC and had said that the eligibility conditions put in by the civic body are based on "thought and deliberation".
The apex court had on April 20 last year allowed the civic agency to e-auction the iconic five-star hotel.
The property, owned by the NDMC, was given to the IHCL on a lease of 33 years. The lease had ended in 2011 and the company was given nine temporary extensions since then on various grounds, with three of them granted last year itself.
The NDMC had, on 28 May, announced the e-auction of its premium hotels in Lutyen's Delhi -- Taj Mansingh, The Connaught and Hotel Asian International -- for a lease period of 33 years.
The last date for submission of bids for Taj Mansingh, with 292 rooms, The Connaught, with 85 rooms and Hotel Asian International with 38 rooms, is 7 June and the auctions will be conducted on 19, 20 and 21 June, respectively.