Apex hospitality industry body gets its head after 5-yr legal battle

Suresh Kumar Poddar have finally been elected as president of the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India on National Company Law Tribunal's intervention

Hospitality industry

New Delhi: Suresh Kumar Poddar, nominee of the Hotel & Restaurant Association of Eastern India (HRAEI), has been elected as the president of India’s oldest hotel industry association, Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI). Poddar was declared elected as president at the executive committee (EC) meeting of the FHRAI held on March 16, under the supervision of a court appointed observer in Delhi.

Currently the president of HRAEI, Poddar has served FHRAI as its honorary treasurer. A hotelier since 1977, Poddar owns a 4-star hotel in Assam and multiple restaurants in Kolkata, which includes the iconic 70-year-old Chinese restaurant, Songhai.

The election of Poddar also brought to an end to a five-year long leadership stalemate in the apex hospitality federation. Poddar, who was the nominee of the eastern chapter of the FHRAI in 2018 for the top position was denied the post as EC members from other regions. The EC meeting of October 30, 2018 concluded electing all other office bearers except president.

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The HRAEI contested the validity of the October 30, 2018 EC meeting in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). After a 4-year-long legal battle, NCLT delivered its verdict on August 30, 2022 nullifying the elections to the EC of October 30, 2018.
In its detailed order, the tribunal has not only called the controversial EC meeting of October 30, 2018 as “null and void and contrary to the AOA,” but also made some stringent remarks against the conduct of some EC members from regions other than the eastern region, who “collectively ensured that the Article 52 of AOA is breached in letter and spirit.” The tribunal asked the federation to hold the elections within 30 days under a court appointed committee.

However, the northern and western region, filed an appeal in NCLAT, seeking a review of the NCLT order. The apex tribunal in its order dated on February 21, 2023, upheld the NCLT order and directed the federation to complete fresh elections to the EC with members as stood on October 30, 2018, within 30 days.

The annual general meeting (AGM) followed by the EC elections were held on March 16 in Delhi where office bearers were elected unanimously. TS Walia, a prominent hotelier from Kolkata, have been elected as honorary secretary of FHRAI.

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On being elected as president, Poddar said, “The industry has seen its most challenging times over the last couple of years and it will be my endeavour to work towards creating a conducive environment for the hospitality sector and to make as much progress as possible in the shortest time frame. We will continue to engage with the government and policy-makers to align our goals to make India’s tourism and hospitality sector one of the best in the world.”

Bihar’s hotel & restaurant body chief hails Poddar’s election

President of Bihar Hotel and Restaurant Association (BHRA) Ajay Kumar Singh said that election of Prasad as head of the FHRAI will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to this important position.

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“Poddar’s extensive experience in the hospitality industry, coupled with his passion for promoting and developing the industry in India, make him an ideal candidate for the FHRAl presidency. His leadership in the industry has been remarkable, and I believe that his vision for the future of hospitality in India will be instrumental in helping the industry grow and thrive,” added Singh.

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