Metro AG, the cash-and-carry retailer, has asked the Supreme Court to resolve a legal dispute over the site it leased for its Kolkata operations from the WestBengal government.
As reported by Mint on 22 March, Metro’s Indian arm, Metro Cash & Carry Pvt. Ltd, was asked to stop building its first outlet in the city by a lower civil court, which has been handling a 45-year-old dispute over the ownership of the land. The West Bengal government, which leased the contiguous land to Metro, tried to clear the company from the litigations with an appeal to the Alipore civil court but was unsuccessful.
Metro, which has already invested about Rs46 crore in leasing and developing the contentious 7.53 acres on the eastern fringe of the city, is keen to open its outletthis year.
Metro first knocked on the doors of the Kolkata high court in March hoping that it could overturn the lower court injunction. After hearing the state government, Metro and the counsel for some 227 people sparring over the land’s ownership rights, the court simply reverted the case to the lower court.
Now, Metro faces a Supreme Court hearing on 9 July, according to the apex body’s website. Metro is being represented by Soli J Sorabjee, the former Attorney General of India, as its senior advocate and N. Ganapathy. The 227 claimants to the land are represented by Bijan Kumar Ghosh.
Metro, has been planning on three outlets in the city in what was to be the company’s third stop after Bangalore and Hyderabad. It expects to invest about Rs80 crore on each store it sets up.
Metro continues to pursue land acquisition in other parts of the city. A company executive, who did not want to be identified due to the competitive nature of the information, said Metro has already acquired land in Howrah, in the northern fringe of this city, and is close to picking up another in Taratolla, to the west of the city. Meanwhile, the company has also turned its attention to Mumbai, where its first outlet is scheduled to open in November, in a mall at Bhandup.