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Taj Mansingh Hotel to be auctioned, Le Meridien licence cancelled: Kejriwal

LiveMint logoLiveMint 02-03-2017 PTI

New Delhi: Two years after the centre cleared the decks for its auction, Taj Mansingh Hotel will finally go under the hammer, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) on Thursday decided, as it also cancelled Le Meridien Hotel’s licence over dues of Rs523 crore.

The two decisions were pending since long as the NDMC was entangled in legal battles with the two hotel owners. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, a member of NDMC Council, made the announcement following a special meeting of its top decision-making body.

“Important decisions today’s NDMC meeting-open auction of Taj Mansingh, cancel Le Meridian Hotel licence, 240 days TMR (Temporary Muster Roll) every yr 2 all death cases (sic),” Kejriwal tweeted.

Imp decisions today's NDMC meeting- Open auction of Taj Mansingh, cancel Le Meridian Hotel license, 240 days TMR every yr 2 all death cases

— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 2, 2017

When contacted, a Le Meridien spokesperson said, “We have not received any official communication yet. The case is sub judice. All hotel operations continue uninterrupted.”

Taj Mansingh, owned by NDMC, was given to Tata’s Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL) on lease for 33 years. The lease expired in 2011 and the company was given nine temporary extensions since then on various grounds.

NDMC, which works under the administrative control of the Union home ministry, had got the nod to auction the hotel in March 2015. The civic body had also selected SBI Cap, which was the Centre’s advisor for coal blocks auctions, to be its transaction advisor for the auction.

However, the process got delayed with the Tata’s moving court. Supreme Court in January this year asked NDMC to reconsider the decision to auction the property. According to minutes of the Thursday’s meeting, “The best available method to NDMC...to obtain the fair market value of rental of the said property in a fair and transparent manner is to opt for e-auction of the premises.”

A senior NDMC official said the right to first refusal to the Tata’s has been denied in this auction which means the company can’t take part in the process. “The right of first refusal to the Tata’s will not be in public interest and would not yield a correct and fair price. The Supreme Court will be apprised of the decision accordingly,” a senior NDMC official said.

An IHCL spokesman, when contacted, said, “As the matter is sub judice, we will not be able to comment on this”. The civic body also decided to cancel the license of Le Meridien, another posh hotel in the Lutyens’ Delhi.

“The council decided that the license of the hotel be terminated due to non-payment of license fee worth Rs523 crore and the Delhi High Court will be apprised accordingly, keeping in view the gross abuse of the process of law by the hotel,” the NDMC official said.

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