The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the previous National Democratic Alliance regime's decision to divest Hotel Agra Ashok and said it was a policy decision of the government.
A Bench comprising Justice A R Lakshmanan and Justice A K Mathur dismissed a petition filed by All India ITDC Workers Union and employees of Hotel Agra Ashok questioning the action to sell the hotel to a private party as arbitrary and illegal.
"The writ petitions are liable to be dismissed and the policy decision taken by the government to transfer Hotel Agra Ashok to M/s Mohan Sigh and Yamuna View Pvt Ltd cannot be assailed at the stance of the employees," the Bench said.
The Bench said in case of BALCO (the divestment of which was earlier upheld by the Apex Court) as well as in the present case, the government has ensured that the interests of the workmen are fully protected. The Bench further said in case of Hotel Agra Ashok, the government had acted on the advise of experts before deciding to divest its share.
The government, through a fair and transparent process, had ensured that it got the best price of its shares in the hotel, the court said and held that divestment was a policy decision of the government.
The Apex Court said that it had held, in an earlier case, the policy decisions should be least interfered with the judicial review.
Holding that the hotel staff were not government servants and were employees of public sector undertaking, the court said the new management of the hotel was ensuring proper service conditions for the workers.
"We see no reason to interfere with the aforesaid decision. In case, the hotel employees are aggrieved by any aspect of terms of reference and formalisation of agreement and completion of disinvestment, it is always open for them to approach the court for redressal of their grievances," the Bench said.