New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a plea by Tata group-owned Indian Hotels Co. Ltd (IHCL) seeking a stay on the e-auction of the Taj ManSingh Hotel in Delhi.

A bench headed by justice L. Nageswara Rao dismissed as withdrawn IHCL’s appeal against a 22 May order of Delhi high court clearing New Delhi Municipal Corporation’s (NDMC’s) tender process inviting bids for the pubic auction of Taj Mansingh Hotel.

The appeal by IHCL sought the quashing of the Delhi high court order and claimed that the court had dismissed its plea in a vague, non-specific and mechanical manner without deciding on the core issues raised by it under the guise of demonstrating judicial restraint.

“The complex nature of eligibility conditions that NDMC has insisted upon, while considering tenders for the hotel plot, are based on thought and deliberation. The realm of re-appreciation through judicial review is consequently extremely narrow," the 15-page order of Delhi high court had stated.

IHCL had challenged the tender process for failing to factor into the eligibility conditions an essential condition with respect to its unblemished track record.

IHCL had moved Delhi high court first in April 2013, seeking to restrain NDMC from auctioning Taj Mansingh Hotel after a committee declined to renew the licence in its favour for 30 years. It had claimed that the original licence agreement—with NDMC as the licensor and IHCL as the licencee—later became a joint venture with two equal partners.

On 20 April 2017, the Supreme Court approved the e-auction of Taj Mansingh Hotel, rejecting the claim of IHCL over the property. NDMC had sought the court’s nod to auction the hotel.

NDMC and IHCL had entered into an agreement in 1976 to construct and run a five-star hotel in one of the prime locations in central Delhi, 1 Mansingh Road.

“We reiterate that the Hon’ble Supreme Court in its Order dated 20th April 2017 has recorded that the unblemished track record of Indian Hotels and its capabilities would have to be taken into account by NDMC while taking a final decision; and that NDMC had also stated before the Delhi High Court that the Supreme Court order was to be one of the factors which would be taken into account while evaluating the bids. We remain confident of our credentials and convinced that our continued partnership with NDMC will ensure the success of this iconic hotel," said a Taj spokesperson.

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