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No adverse action against Centaur Hotel employees till their representation is heard, decided: HC to authorities

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Srinagar: J&K High Court Thursday directed the authorities not to take any adverse action against evicted Centaur Lakeview Hotel employees till their representation is considered and decided by the government.

Nearly 160 employees of the iconic hotel of Kashmir were thrown out of their jobs by virtue of a government notice No. CST/PPEA/03/2022 issued on 25th of April this year. The Union territory administration had decided to take possession of the hotel from the Hotel Corporation of India after this notice.

The evicted employees have been holding protests in the city against their eviction over the past couple of days. They have also filed a writ petition against the government decision.

Hearing their plea filed under the banner Centaur Hotel Employees Union, Justice Moksha Khajuria Kazmi directed the petitioners “to make a comprehensive representation before the concerned authorities within a period of two weeks from today”.

The judge directed the respondents to consider the representation within a period of one week thereafter.

“In the meantime, respondents are directed not to take any adverse action against the petitioners till the representation is considered and decided,” the bench ordered.

If the petitioners fail to file the representation within the stipulated time, in that eventuality, the respondents would be free to take action in accordance with law, the order said further.

The petitioners have challenged the notice bearing endorsement No. CST/PPEA/03/2022 dated 25.04.2022. They have also sought direction to allow the members of the Employees Union to continue to work and perform their usual duties against their respective posts in the Centaur Lakeview Hotel.

They have also sought direction against respondents that the members of their Union shall not be disturbed by way of action by the Government of Union Territory of J&K and the Hotel Corporation of India Pvt. Ltd.

The action defined in the petition is with regard to the change of administration, control and guard of the Centaur.

Counsel for the petitioners stated that he would be satisfied if the respondents are directed to provide an opportunity of being heard before taking any action in terms of the challenged notice.

Raised in the 1970’s on the banks of Dal Lake, the Centaur (252 room-hotel) was sealed a few days ago by the Union territory authorities. Its employees were asked to leave after a government order blamed Hotel Corporation of India (HCI) for violating terms of the lease agreement by subletting the hotel to a third party.

The then State government vide Government order No.118 of 1981 on 17th of October 1981 had leased out the property measuring 13 acres to HCI for a period of 99 years. A lease agreement was accordingly executed. However, nearly 160 employees having served the hotel for decades were served an eviction notice on 25th of April, 2022.

“We were simply asked to leave. We have no issues regarding whoever wants to run it — whether it is the state or the Centre — but our jobs should be secured,” the protesting employees have been saying.

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