NDMC dismisses official from service in Le Meridien case

Official says he has been framed, plans to appeal before L-G

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) on Tuesday dismissed an Estate Department official from service for “facilitating a fraudulent settlement” of licence fee dues with Le Meridien Hotel in 2015.

The official, Kishore Prasad, who was then a senior assistant in the department, on Wednesday said he was being “framed” and that he planned on appealing his dismissal before the Lieutenant-Governor who is the appellate authority in the case.

In the 45-page dismissal order signed by NDMC chairperson Naresh Kumar, the civic body argued that Mr. Prasad had not only failed to oppose the settlement, in which NDMC agreed to take ₹150.92 crore instead of the due amount of ₹618.17 crore, but had facilitated it as well. An NDMC official said this was the first such action in the case.

The long-pending dispute between NDMC and CJ International Hotels Pvt. Ltd., the company that runs the hotel, over licence fee dues is the backdrop to the case. NDMC has maintained that the hotel has not paid the full licence fees since the lease began in 1982 and that some of its officials connived with the company to settle the dues at a much lower amount in 2015. Besides departmental inquiries going on against officers, including the thenNDMC chairperson Jalaj Srivastava, the CBI is also probing the matter.

After a complaint from the estate director, the Home Ministry set up an inspection team that gave its report on July 7, 2015, the order states. The Ministry advised NDMC to carry out separate investigations into the “lower-level officials” involved. The six-member committee formed by NDMC gave its report on May 15, 2017, recommending “major penalty” against Mr. Prasad, the order said. After holding hearings, the inquiring authority submitted its report on January 24, 2019, after which Mr. Prasad was given another hearing.

According to the dismissal order, Mr. Prasad did not take the approval of the competent authority for entering into an agreement to accept ₹150.92 crore as opposed to ₹618.17 crore, the amount pending as on March 31, 2014. Mr. Prasad, who has been under suspension since August 2017, said he was being made a scapegoat.

“The hotel was defaulting on fees since the 1980s. NDMC officials over the years connived with the hotel and did not take action for recovery. I joined the department in February 2014 and wrote on the file in June that year that we should take action. I had also said that we cannot reduce the dues as the terms and conditions do not allow it,” said Mr. Prasad.

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Printable version | May 24, 2020 7:40:55 PM |

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