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Tourist Lodge dispute: HC declines to stay notice to vacate

Gauhati High Corut Kohima Bench

DIMAPUR, NOVEMBER 20: The Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court on Monday refused to pass an interim stay order on a notice issued by the State’s Tourism Department to Dr. Vihuto Assumi to vacate the restaurant area at Tourist Lodge, Dimapur.
As reported last month by Nagaland Page, Assumi had filed a petition challenging the agreement between Tourism Department and the Meghalaya-based Hotel Polo Towers Group to lease out Tourist Lodge Dimapur to the latter on Public-Private-Partnership mode. “The petitioner had entered into a Lease Deed Agreement on September 6, 2022 with the respondent Tourism Department, Nagaland, to operate a Restaurant [Catering Services] located at Tourist Lodge, Dimapur for a period of 5 [five] years. It is the case of the petitioner that the total area so given in lease to the petitioner to operate the Restaurant is 4031.92 sq ft.
“After execution of the Lease Deed Agreement, the Restaurant area was duly handed over to the petitioner. Since, after handing over of the Restaurant area, the petitioner has been operating the Restaurant [Catering Services] satisfactorily by paying all the dues regularly to the respondent authorities. But, the respondent authorities in the Tourism Department, Nagaland, had again entered into another Lease Agreement with the respondent no. 4 [Hotel Polo] for development of 4/5-star or higher category hotels under PPP Mode for an initial period of 30 [thirty] years with an automatic renewal clause for a further period of 30 [thirty] years”, stated an order issued by Justice Manish Choudhury on Monday.
The Lease Agreement between Tourism Department and Hotel Polo was executed on September 13, 2023, it stated. Subsequently, the Department issued a notice to Assumi on October 25, 2023, asking him to vacate the Restaurant area at Tourist Lodge, Dimapur, within a period of 2 months.
“Mr. Kinimi, learned Counsel for the petitioner, has strenuously submitted that after execution of the Lease Agreement dated September 6, 2022 and handing over of the Restaurant area, the petitioner has made substantial investment towards civil infrastructure, etc. works in the Restaurant. It is submitted by him that the period of the Lease Agreement was for 5 [five] years but the respondent authorities only after about 1 [one] year, has served the impugned notice to the petitioner to vacate the Restaurant area.
“In the event the petitioner is required to vacate the Restaurant area from the Tourist Lodge, Dimapur, the petitioner will suffer immense loss. Challenging the impugned notice as arbitrary and unjust, the writ petition has been preferred”, the order read.
On the other hand, V Zhimomi, the State Counsel, submitted that the agreement signed on September 6, 2022 contained clauses (22 and 23) for vacating the Restaurant area within a stipulated period of time, by prior notice from either side.
“The learned Counsels for the parties are also heard on the interim prayer. Clause 22 had provided that the lessees shall allow the facilities at the disposal of the State Government/Tourism Department in case of any exigency situation or for the conveniences of the State Government/Tourism Department. Clause 23 of the Lease Deed Agreement dated September 6, 2022 had provided that the lessee shall serve at least 2 [two] months notice in advance to the Department in case of its desire to discontinue the lease agreement and vice-versa.
“The notice to vacate dated October 15, 2023 has been issued by the respondent no. 3 [Tourism] by invoking Clause 22 and Clause 23 of the said Lease Deed Agreement providing 2 [two] months time to the petitioner to vacate the Restaurant area of the Tourist Lodge, Dimapur. In such view of the matter, the Court is not inclined to pass any interim order at this stage, staying the operation of the impugned notice dated October 15, 2023, as the petitioner has alternative remedy as regards his grievance regarding making of substantial investment to operate the Restaurant after the Lease Deed Agreement dated September 6, 2022”, the Judge ruled.
The Court issued notice, returnable in 4 weeks.
(Page News Service)