Fourteen mediation sessions — held between March and December 2012 — to resolve the dispute between ITC Ltd. and the Wakf Board over the upmarket hotel, ITC Windsor, have failed despite mediators’ recommendations to arrive at an amicable solution.
Back in HC
Following this, the mediators on March 23, 2013 sent the matter back to the High Court, throwing their hands up.
The court, in 2011, had referred the dispute to the Bangalore Mediation Centre (BMC) and the process began with the appointment of Shivaraj V. Patil, a former Supreme Court judge, as one of the mediators. However, he could not continue as mediator following his appointment as Lokayukta.
Later, R.V. Raveendran, also a retired Supreme Court judge, and Laila Ollapalli of BMC were appointed mediators.
The High Court had referred the case for mediation following an appeal filed by the ITC Ltd. challenging the February 9, 2011 court order upholding the Wakf Board’s 2001-02 order to evict it from the property (on which the hotel was constructed) under the Karnataka Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act 1974. The hotel got a show-cause notice in this regard.
Following the failure of mediation, a Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice K.L. Manjunath and Justice Ravi Malimath, in its April 4 order, admitted ITC Ltd.’s appeal but said the pendency of the appeal won’t come in the way of the Competent Officer under the KPP Act to proceed further based on the show cause notice issued to the hotel.
However, the Bench made it clear that if any adverse order [for evicting ITC Ltd. from property] was to be passed by the Competent Authority, then ITC Ltd. could move the High Court for further orders in regard to the execution of eviction.
The Wakf Board claims the lease of its land to ITC Ltd. has “no sanctity in law” and the hotel has violated the lease terms. The eviction process was initiated considering the property as a “public property” and ITC Ltd. as an illegal occupant. However, ITC Ltd. has contended that the lease is lawful and the property cannot be classified as a public property.