Tata-owned Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) was granted an extension of six months on Monday to operate the iconic Taj Mansingh hotel on Mansingh Road in Lutyens’ Delhi. The current lease of the hotel was to expire in two days.
“The lease to IHCL to operate the Taj Mansingh hotel has been extended till March 31 next year,” chairperson of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) Jalaj Srivastava said.
The decision to extend the lease was taken at a meeting of the NDMC, a month after it sought the opinion of Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran on whether IHCL should be given the first right of refusal in the auction of the hotel. The IHCL has been operating the five-star hotel for the past 35 years.
NDMC officials said a final decision on the issue will be taken after receiving the Solicitor General’s opinion, as also the directives of the Union Home Ministry, which is the controlling authority of the municipal body.
Officials, however, said even though the lease has been extended till March 2014, “the Council will immediately take up the issue if the Home Ministry conveys its instructions with Solicitor General’s opinion before that”.
The Home Ministry had earlier routed the NDMC’s request for the Solicitor General’s opinion on the issue through the Law Ministry.
“If we get the opinion of the Solicitor General, we can call a special meeting within 48 hours on the matter,” a senior official said.
The opinion of the law officer was sought after there were divergent views on giving the first right of refusal to the IHCL in case auction was to take place. While the Council was in favour of giving the first right of refusal to IHCL, the Home Ministry was against it, arguing that it may attract lower bids. The controversy started when IHCL’s lease expired in October, 2011.
The property, constructed by NDMC, was leased out to IHCL in 1978 on a 33-year lease. When the lease came to an end in 2011, the NDMC was about to renew it but the Urban Development Ministry intervened and demanded that the property be auctioned.