A look at the nearly two-decade-long court battle between the New Delhi Municipal Council and owners of the Connaught hotel:
# Prominent Hotels Ltd got the licence to run the hotel premises at the site near Shivaji Stadium in July 1982. The licence was given for setting up an international youth hostel for the then upcoming Asian Games 1982. According to the NDMC plea in court records, the company “constructed a luxurious hotel, instead of a youth hostel, on the licenced plot which was completed in September, 1987.”
# The NDMC finally cancelled the licence of the company to run the hotel from its premises in February 1995, due to non-payment of over Rs 3 crore in license fee.
# The cancellation and the demand of licence fee was challenged by Prominent Hotels ltd before a district civil court, and the case dragged on till November 2013. The trial court order was granted in favour of the company.
# The NDMC filed an appeal against the trial court order before the Delhi High Court in 2014, which was decided in favour of the civic body on September 11, 2015. The Delhi High Court bench of Justice J R Midha observed that the company had filed various applications before the High Court and Supreme Court, delaying the trial court proceedings.
# The court added, “The conduct of the licensee shows that the licensee delayed the trial by moving one application after the other…the licensee succeeded in delaying the litigation for more than 18 years.”
# The court also imposed a penalty of Rs 5 lakh.
# The company filed an appeal before the Supreme Court against the judgment of the High Court, which dismissed the Special Leave Petition on November 23, 2015.
# The NDMC filed a plea before the HC to get the premises cleared, and for payment of the pending licence fee of over Rs 140 crore.
While the estate officer was looking into settling the dispute regarding eviction proceedings, the NDMC in February 2016 issued a demand notice for Rs 140 crore, which had been calculated by the HC bench in its judgment as the pending fee.
# On March 9, the bench of Justice R S Endlaw directed the estate officer to take up the proceedings on a day-to-day basis, and said the proceedings had to be “positively concluded on or before May 31, 2016.”
# The company again filed an appeal against this order, but a division bench of the HC — in its order on April 8, 2016 — held that the estate officer could decide on the issue.
# The company was also fighting another case in the HC against the order to seal its premises, issued in February 2015. In an order given on December 18, 2015, a second bench of the HC directed that funds of around Rs 10 crore deposited by the company should be released to the NDMC as part payment. Between December 2015 and May 2016, the case has been adjourned three times, and is scheduled to be heard in July.