Now Indian Railways PSU IRCTC is the “exclusive owner” of
the luxurious train Maharaja Express. The Delhi High Court has put aside its
earlier order to the collaboration of the state enterprise and UK’s travel
giant Cox and Kings.
A divisional bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Acting
Chief Justice AK Sikri put aside the Delhi High Court’s single-judge bench
order mentioning it as “prima facie view” that the management was not legally
sustainable and not justified.
"This is the prima facie view we hold, (that) it is
difficult to make interim arrangement and pass an order in the nature of
mandatory injunction directing continuation of the earlier arrangement which
has been terminated by IRCTC. After all, it is to be borne in mind that the
IRCTC is the absolute owner of the train in question and the said train belongs
exclusively to IRCTC," the division bench observed.
The High Court also sidelined the argument by the Cox and
Kings counsel that it should be given the permission to run the train in
collaboration with IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd.)
as the train became popular throughout the world due to the efforts put in by
the travel agency.
"Maharaja Express has earned worldwide name and is one
of the premier luxury trains in the world tourism. No doubt, that is true. However,
that would not mean that C&K has acquired indefeasible right to run this
train. Purpose can be served if the train runs as usual but by the IRCTC on its
own or with the aid and addition of some other party," the court
IRCTC had struck a joint venture with Cox and Kings in the
year 2006 by the name of Royale India rail Tours Limited to run the Maharaja
Express. From the month of April in the year 2011, both the entities started
having differences on the operation of the train.
As per Cox and Kings, IRCTC’s draft treaty with
Indian Railways was put forth to override all the agreements made between them
and alter all the terms and conditions of the collaboration.