Staff Reporter

Hotel has challenged the termination of a lease agreement

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court has adjourned a case relating to the termination of lease of a building on Sankey Road in Bangalore to ITC Hotel Windsor Manor Sheraton.

Justice S. Abdul Nazir was hearing a petition by the hotel challenging the termination by the Wakf Board of a lease agreement entered into by it with ITC about the building housing the star hotel.

ITC Hotels Ltd., New Delhi, and ITC Hotel Windsor Sheraton had challenged the August 12, 2002 order of the Competent Officer under the Karnataka Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1974, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Karnataka State Board for Wakfs (Wakf Board) initiating eviction proceedings against the hotel.

The hotel also challenged the constitutional validity of Section 2 (e) (v) of the 1974 Act as substituted by the Karnataka Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupation) Act, 1999.

ITC said it was incorporated as a corporation in 1956. It said the Windsor Manor building was initially known as Baqarabad (also as Bedford House) and belonged to Aga Ali Askar, a Shia Muslim, who on October 10, 1880 willed it to the Wakf Board.

On October 15, 1973 the board executed a lease for 30 years in favour of Monarch Corporation.

Monarch later assigned the leasehold in favour of Vishwakarma Hotel Ltd (which later came to be known as ITC Hotels).

Hotel's contention

The hotel said it had been in lawful possession of the property since September 13, 1974.

Contesting the eviction order, the hotel said the Competent Officer did not have the jurisdiction to pass the eviction order or proceed against it under the Karnataka Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupation) Act.

It urged the court to stay further proceedings in the case.

The Wakf Board said the hotel was paying a measly rent of Rs. 6,000 a month for a property on 1.66 lakh sq ft of prime land in the heart of the city.

This was inadequate and the hotel was occupying the land on the basis of an instrument which had no sanctity under the law (An earlier Single Bench had enhanced the rent).

The Wakf Board said its property could not be used for activities that are impermissible under Islam. It said it had the right to terminate the lease agreement.

Mr. Justice Nazir adjourned further hearing on the case.