Reconsider Taj Mansingh auction, Supreme Court to NDMC

The Supreme Court today told the New Delhi Municipal Corporation to reconsider the auction of the Taj Mansingh Hotel lease.

A Bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Rohinton Nariman directed the NDMC to reconsider its decision in light of the legal opinions given in 2014 by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who had both advised against holding the auction.

The Apex Court also said that when the Ministry of Home Affairs had asked NDMC to hold the auction, it was not aware of the top law officers’ opinions. Justice Nariman remarked that keeping the these opinions away from the Ministry did not appear to be bona fide.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain appeared for the NDMC, while Senior Advocate Harish Salve represented the Taj group of hotels. Salve had submitted that he had no objection to the auction itself, but insisted that his right to first refusal be cemented in the form of a court order.

The NDMC now has six weeks to decide the issue.

In October last year, the Delhi High Court gave NDMC the nod to auction off the Taj Mansingh Hotel. IHCL was awarded a 33-year old lease which expired in 2011, after which several rounds of litigation took place.

However, when the matter reached the Supreme Court a month later, status quo was ordered.