RWITC cancels BJR’s contract to run restaurant

The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) is now mired in another controversy. It has terminated its contract with ‘Gallops’, a restaurant run by the BJR Group. BJR had stopped paying the agreed annual lease amount of Rs3.25 crore to RWITC from 1 July 2009; it has also dragged RWITC to the Bombay Small Causes Court.

Evidently, the cancellation of the contract comes at a time when the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) estate department is preparing to send an eviction notice to RWITC for sub-letting portions of the plot allotted to it on a 99-year lease agreement and allowing illegal constructions. According to senior officials from the BMC, a notice has already been drafted. However, assistant municipal commissioner Vasant Prabhu from the BMC’s estate department declined to comment on the issue. Incidentally, Gallops is not the only restaurant operating from the racecourse—Olive and Indigo also operate from the same premises.

BJR has not paid RWITC Rs3.25 crore as per its agreement with the Club, since 1st July, claiming that they are sub-tenants and have been on the premises for 22 years and hence were liable to pay only standard rent of a few lakh rupees a year instead of the amount agreed upon. The agreement states that BJR has to pay RWITC Rs3.25 crore annually for leasing the land.

RWITC, which runs the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, had terminated its contract with BJR on Saturday, for allegedly flouting rules of the agreement and claiming tenancy on the land even as the rules state that they only have the right to manage the space as opposed to tenancy rights.

RWITC claims that BJR failed to get BMC clearance for supposedly building unauthorised structures. RWITC further claims that instead of doing away with the irregularities, it was taken to court by BJR, which is claiming tenancy and refusing to pay the committed conducting fee in accordance with a new agreement signed for managing the restaurant for 10 years. This agreement was finalised in 2008.

However, this agreement between the two parties has come under a close scanner now as RWITC’s lease on the land expires in 2013.

Vivek Jain, chairman, media and marketing committee for RWITC has been quoted in various media reports stating that the Club had terminated its contract with BJR only after it was given every opportunity to adhere to the agreement. Mr Jain said, “Their action is confrontationist and unfortunate. We will strive to enforce our rights.”

RWITC, which loses money on racing, earns profits by hiring out the lawns for weddings. It also earns royalty from catering and leasing out land for restaurants. In 2008, BMC had served RWITC with two notices, pertaining mainly to the restaurants, which the civic body said were in breach of the lease agreement.
 — Aaron Rodrigues

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    Gold snaps four-day gains

    Price of standard gold declined by Rs280 to Rs18,270 per 10gm as stockists reduced their holdings in tandem with a weakening global trend. Falling retail demand added to the price pressure

    Gold prices fell by Rs 280 to Rs 18,270 per 10gm in the bullion market on Friday due to widespread selling by stockists in the face of weakening global trend.
    Selling pressure gathered momentum as gold fell to $1,205.6 per ounce in London from a record high of $1,226.

    Marketmen said prices fell as stockists reduced their holdings in tandem with a weakening global trend.

    A drop in demand from retailers at existing higher levels added to the pressure on prices.

    Standard gold and ornaments, which were setting fresh price records almost every day, plunged by Rs280 each to Rs18,270 and Rs18,120 per 10gm, respectively, while the price of the 8gm gold sovereign declined by Rs50 to Rs14,300.

    Silver too tumbled by Rs900 to Rs29,000 per kg. Silver ready fell by Rs900 to Rs29,000 per kg while the price for weekly-based delivery increased by Rs50 to Rs29,500 per kg on scattered buying by speculators.

    Silver coins remained steady at Rs34,600 for buying and Rs34,700 for selling of 100 pieces.
    — Yogesh Sapkale


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    HC quashes use of emergency powers for Dadri land acquisition

    The UP government would now have to invite objections from farmers, who have the option of either returning the money to reclaim their land or forfeiting any claim

    The Allahabad High Court on Friday quashed the Uttar Pradesh government\'s notification for use of emergency powers to acquire land for Reliance Natural Resources Ltd’s (RNRL) Dadri power project, side-stepping a provision for inviting objections from landowners, reports PTI.

    The state government would now have to invite objections from farmers, who have the option of either returning the money to reclaim the land or forfeiting any claim.

    However, the agitating farmers and RNRL gave different interpretations of the order. Anil Ambani group official JP Chalasani contended that land acquisition for the Dadri project has not been set aside as claimed by the other side.

    Passing the order, a division bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhusan and Justice Sudhir Aggrawala said that all "subsequent proceedings consequent to the notification of 11 February 2004, including the notification under Section 6 of 25 June 2004 are quashed".

    "The Collector (of Gautam Buddh Nagar, where the Dadri village is situated) shall issue notice in newspapers having wide circulation by not giving less than 30 days\' period for filing of objections", the court said.

    The court held that the notification dated 11 February 2004 is "partly quashed" since it invoked emergency powers under Section 17(1) and 17(4) of the Land Acquisition Act meant for public purpose.

    Besides, the state, which acquired over 2,000 acres of land, had bypassed Section 5A, which provides for inviting objections from the landowners.

    "The petitioners (landowners) are liable to refund the compensation received from the respondents", the court said.

    "However, it will be open to those who have no objection to the acquisition to indicate so, and in that event they may seek exemption from the Collector from refunding the compensation", the court added.

    The court also made it clear that the Collector shall take into account only objections of those who have returned the money.

    The 7,800MW project, land for which was acquired by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in 2004, has become a bone of contention between the Ambani brothers, Mukesh and Anil, who are involved in a bitter legal battle in the Supreme Court over supply of natural gas.

    The Anil Ambani group has charged Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) of reneging on its commitment to supply gas, which it claimed had rendered the project non-bankable.

    RIL, on the other hand, had argued in the apex court that the project was not on the ground and hence, the gas could not be supplied.

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