Sep 16 2011 11:34AM

HC clears takeover of Hotel Picnic

CHENNAI: The famous Hotel Picnic adjacent Ripon Buildings may finally have to go. Paving the way for the takeover of the building and the premium land, the Madras high court on Thursday dismissed the management's appeal against a single judge order.
"It is a case where a public property has been siphoned off under the cover of documents and protective umbrella of court orders. The prime property worth several crores of rupees leased for a noble cause was diverted for personal benefit of making profits. It is a case of exploitation of public property by putting up multi-storied buildings with palatial facade, for running a hotel business and personal aggrandisement," said a division bench comprising Justice R Banumathi and Justice B Rajendran.
The property originally belonged to the Chennai Corporation, which leased about 57 grounds to the Victoria Public Hall Trust to promote public and private cultural and educational activities. Hotel Picnic got the prime
property by way of a sub-lease from the Victoria Public Hall Trust, and the sub-lease period ended on April 30, 1985. The hotel has been paying a monthly rent of Rs 4,000.
On April 1, 2011, Justice K Chandru had upheld Chennai Corporation's bid to take over the land, and held that since the Victoria Public Hall Trust had surrendered the property to the Corporation, the sub-lease too would cease to exist. Noting the hotel management had nothing to do with the trust, he said the lease deed between the hotel and the trust was 'heavily loaded in favour of the sub-lease (Hotel Picnic)'. Since the proposed renovation of Victoria Public Hall involved a huge expenditure, the trustees adopted a resolution on March 11, 2009 to hand over the premises back to the Chennai Corporation. T
The judge had asked the corporation to take possession of the property. The present appeal was preferred by the hotel management.
The division bench, dismissing the appeal on Thursday
said: "The appellants (Hotel Picnic management) whose claim of sub-lease expired on April 30, 1985, seek to protect their possession even after the surrender of the lease hold rights by the original lessor, namely the Victoria Public Hall Trust."If any interim injunction was granted in favour of the hotel, it would also stall the Metro Rail (CMRL) project, which is developing the city infrastructure. , it said,
pointing out that over 955 sq mt of the hotel area had been earmarked for locating the Metro Rail station-related structures and amenities above the ground. The bench declined to implead CMRL as a party to the proceedings and rejected its plea stating there were no issues to be decided by impleading CMRL.
The anti-corruption icon refused to pay a lot of attention bout Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s bouquet that was sent to Anna wishing him a speedy recovery from his health problems, when Anna was hospitalized after breaking his 12 day fast.
Anna explained, “The bouquet that I received in the hospital was sent by Prime Minister’s office as a matter of procedure.”
“We had no differences of opinion in the past and would not have any differences in future. Friction happens when people are selfish and greedy. All my team members are fighting for a cause with a selfless commitment,” he assured, on being asked about the differences, which coul come up between him and his team-mates.

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