Hours after Wildflower Hall takeover by Himachal Pradesh, High Court orders stay : The Tribune India

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Hours after Wildflower Hall takeover by Himachal Pradesh, High Court orders stay

Hours after Wildflower Hall takeover by Himachal Pradesh, High Court orders stay

Wildflower Hall at Charabra near Shimla. - File photo



Tribune News Service

Pratibha Chauhan

Shimla, November 18

In a dramatic turn of events, the Himachal Government today took over the Oberoi-run high-end Hotel Wildflower Hall at Mashobra, only to be directed by the High Court hours later not to interfere in the day-to-day management and possession of the hotel.

2-DECADE-OLD LEGAL BATTLE

1925: Property built by Lord Kitchener

1973: HPTDC starts a hotel

1993: Devastating fire destroys building

1995: HP Govt, Oberoi Group enter pact for high-end hotel

2002: Dhumal-led BJP regime annuls pact

2005: Arbitration award in favour of HP

2022: HC dismisses EIH plea against arbitration award

The state government and Oberoi Group’s East India Hotels (EIH) have been engaged in a bitter legal dispute over the control and profit-sharing from the colonial-era hotel, considered to be one of the finest properties in the world. Spread over 100 acres amidst a deodar forest, 12 km from here, the property was built by Lord Kitchener.

Hours after officials from the HP Tourism Department and Corporation (HPTDC) arrived at the prime property for takeover, the HC stayed the sudden move by the government. “The state shall not interfere in the day-to-day management and possession of the hotel,” the court ordered, staying the execution of its November 17 order.

“The execution petitions filed by both sides are pending and the award passed by the arbitrator has to be executed by this court, not parties themselves,” the HC order by Justice Satyen Vaidya read. The matter has now been listed for November 21. The court also turned down the government counsel’s plea that Senior Advocate Dhrun Mehta be heard through video-conferencing from Delhi. The HC in its order yesterday had asked the state to reveal its option whether it wanted to resume the property by taking its possession in terms of the award or not. The government had been granted time by the court to take a decision in this regard by December 15.

The EIH had moved the HC against the July 2005 award of the arbitrator, in a bid to retain its hold over the luxury property. However, last year, the EIH approached the state government to execute the award after the HC dismissed their petition in October 2022.

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