Le Meridien seeks refund of money paid to NDMC
Owing to the ongoing dispute between Le Meridien hotel and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) on the issue of licence fee dues, the former has sought refund of money paid to the Council in the past. The hotel management has sought settlement of the case through adjudication on merits.
“The management has submitted that an amount of Rs 181 crore had been paid by the hotel but an additional Rs 360 crore’s demand has been raised by the Council. After the Council’s demand for more money as license fee, the hotel has asked it to refund total amount of fee, paid earlier,” claimed a senior officer of Le Meridien hotel.
Both the agencies were in the middle of a controversy with the Home Ministry recommending a CBI probe into alleged irregularities in payment of licence fee arrears by the hotel to the civic body. It was alleged that the Council allowed a settlement of licence fee dues owed to it by the hotel in April, and Le Meridien paid a one-time fee of Rs 151.92 crore. NDMC claimed the one-time payment caused a loss of Rs 400 crore to it and moved the Delhi high court to overturn the settlement. The Home Ministry had formed an inquiry committee under a joint secretary rank officer which found irregularities, leading it to recommend a CBI probe. Sources said the Le Meridien file was recently sent to the CBI for probe.
On April 21 this year, the hotel paid the NDMC, chaired by Jalaj Srivastava, Rs 150 crore to settle a 13-year-long legal battle over licence fees. The Home Ministry has now ordered a fresh inquiry after allegations that the Meridien paid way less than the demand of over Rs 600 crore.
NDMC went by the advice of its legal counsel, Justice R B Misra, who favoured a settlement because the legal merry-go-round has ensured no money flow into NDMC accounts from the hoteliers. Justice Misra advised NDMC to grab the “opportunity” offered by Meridien to settle the long-pending complex.
NDMC boss Srivastava “endorsed” the idea to improve the Corporation’s “fund” collections. Meridien wasn’t paying taxes because of this dispute going on for 13 years. The case was in the High Court. After an interim order, both the parties had the option to escalate and prolong the litigation.