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SC decision on Wildflower Hall safeguards interests: Himachal CM

IANS | February 21, 2024 03:37 PM

SHIMLA: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Sukhu on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the verdict of the Himachal Pradesh High Court regarding ownership of Wildflower Hall, a landmark luxury hotel of Oberoi Group on the outskirts of Shimla.

Expressing satisfaction on the ruling, the Chief Minister said in a statement that it safeguarded the interests of Himachal Pradesh.

Attributing the favorable decision to the efforts undertaken by the state government in advocating its case effectively, Sukhu said, “Renowned lawyer Mukul Rohatgi was engaged to ensure comprehensive representation and safeguard state’s interests in the legal battle.

“The outcome of this verdict reflects the government's steadfast dedication to protect the interests of Himachal Pradesh.”

The Oberoi Group had held possession of the prestigious property for last many years, and now the Supreme Court has ordered them to vacate it within a year.

The government will deliberate on the future course of action regarding the property, once it gets the possession, emphasising a decision that aligns with the best interests of Himachal, said the Chief Minister.

Last month, the Himachal Pradesh High Court asked the Oberoi Group to surrender possession of the five-star hotel to the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) within two months.

The government, a stakeholder in the hotel, has suspected financial wrongdoing in the management of the heritage hotel that has been running into losses since March 2001.

Wildflower Hall, sought-after by high-end tourists and celebrities, is a joint venture of Mashobra Resorts, the Oberoi Group company that runs the hotel, and the state government. It has long been under litigation between the two partners.

Disposing of the government’s petition, the High Court on January 6 directed the East India Hotels (EIH) Ltd to vacate and ensure peaceful handover of the entire property of Wildflower Hall within two months.

“It is held that the EIH Ltd has failed to comply with the terms of award within the period of three months from the date it attained finality, i.e. October, 13, 2022, ” it said, observing the Oberoi Group had failed to comply with the arbitration award within the stipulated time limit of three months.

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