The auctioning of Taj Mansingh hotel has hit another roadblock with the Union Minister of Law now directing the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) to follow procedure while seeking legal opinion of the Solicitor General of India on the issue of its lease.
The Law Ministry’s direction to approach the Solicitor General through the Ministry of Home Affair (MHA) and not directly, may delay the auctioning even further and open up the possibility of another extension of lease, with the previous extension expiring on October 10.
The NDMC property was given to Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) on lease for 33 years. When the lease ended in 2011 and NDMC was about to renew it, the Urban Development Ministry intervened and asked it to auction the property.
As time was running out, the NDMC gave IHCL a year’s extension. While the company expected the lease to be renewed in October 2012, the process was stalled temporarily as NDMC could not take a final call. The property’s lease was again extended by a year.
NDMC chairman Jalaj Srivastava said the files pertaining to Taj Mansingh had been sent to the Home Ministry. “The MHA has already sent the request to SG on September 15,” he said while maintaining that NDMC would follow the order and decision of the Council in letter and spirit.
However, with the code of conduct expected to be implemented soon, NDMC officials fear that the issue may get deferred for another year. “When code of conduct is in place, the council may not be able to decide on the lease even after the SG’s opinion,” an official said.
Earlier, when the MHA had delayed sending the request to the SG, NDMC had requested MHA to authorise it seek an opinion directly — a request that the MHA had granted permission for.
In fact, the NDMC had directly approached the Additional Solicitor General for his opinion on the matter, a move which neither the MHA nor the Law Ministry had objected to.