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HC refers dispute between J&K govt and HCL over Centaur Lakeview Hotel to GoI’s Cabinet Secretary for adjudication

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Srinagar: Ending years-long dispute between J&K government and the Hotel Corporation of India (HCI) on the possession of Centaur Lakeview Hotel Srinagar, the High Court today directed the Cabinet Secretary, Government of India, to adjudicate the matter within two months.

The Corporation had earlier leased the Hotel to Bd And P Hotels Private Limited, which seemingly prompted the J&K government to cancel the 99 year lease of 1982 in favor of the Corporation. It had asked the Corporation to evict the hotel forthwith.

Justice Sanjeev Kumar, who passed the directions, observed that the dispute is one between an Autonomous Body (HCI), a Government of India utility, and the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir (after the scrapping of its special status and having been made into a UT) is now administered by the President of India through Lieutenant Governor who is answerable to the President through the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, the court said.

He observed though UT of J&K shall have a legislature, yet the final control of the UT vests in the President of India who exercises his control through the Lieutenant Governor.

“Thus, such disputes between the two limbs of Government of India should not be brought to the court, to be fought for years at the expense of the public exchequer,” Justice Kumar said.

He held that the dispute is between two limbs of the Government of India. “It would be desirable to relegate the parties to the Administrative Dispute Resolution Mechanism provided under the Office Memo (supra),” and disposed of the case.

The judge directed the Government of India through its Cabinet Secretary to constitute a committee of Secretary to the Government, Ministry of Civil Aviation; Secretary to the Government, Department of Home Affairs, and Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs to adjudicate the Centaur Hotel dispute.

Interestingly, in case the committee fails to resolve the dispute between the parties, “the matter shall be referred to the Cabinet Secretary whose decision shall be final and binding on all concerned”.

On a petition by the by the Centaur Hotel Employees Union, who claimed that the termination of lease and eviction of for Centaur to HCI  would entail losing of their jobs, the court found that the Corporation is vehemently contesting termination of its lease as also the eviction notice issued to it.

The court dismissed the petition of Bd And P Hotels Private Limited, who had claimed that its interests were being marred by the dispute between the HCI and J&K government.

No third party including the applicant, who may have entered into some contract with the petitioner-Corporation, is a necessary party, it said.

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