A fine of Rs 2 lakh has been levied on Reliance Industries and an association of sub-licensees of Le Meridien Commercial Tower by the Delhi High Court, which also dismissed its plea challenging the eviction process initiated by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) against Le Meridien Hotel.
Reliance Industries, which occupies the fifth floor of the commercial tower in the hotel premises, is also a sub-licensee of the hotel. Earlier, the NDMC had issued an eviction notice to CJ International, operator of the hotel, for its alleged failure to pay dues pegged at around Rs 605 crore. The operator then filed an appeal in the HC, which was quashed. An appeal was filed yet again, and the proceedings are pending.
Meanwhile, the occupants of the building, including 27 companies, challenged the sealing of their offices in the court, following which the court directed de-sealing of 90 occupants’ offices. Reliance Industries, along with the West Tower Association of Sub Licensees, then contested the entire eviction process pending before the Economic Offences court of the NDMC. Counsel for Reliance, Daljit Singh Ahluwalia, said the proceedings initiated by the estate officer of the NDMC would have “civil consequences” for the petitioners because if CJ International was evicted, they, too, would be evicted. The estate officer was mandated under principles of natural justice to issue a show-cause notice to all occupants, and this was also mandated under relevant provisions of the Public Premises Act, he said.
Justice J R Midha then asked what was the locus standi of the petitioners to challenge the eviction proceedings against CJ International. Calling it “proxy litigation”, the judge said the petitioners had already filed a writ petition seeking de-sealing, and the plea against eviction should not have been made separately. The court has directed the fine to be deposited within 10 days.