Supertech Case: Law Must Step In To Address Legitimate Concerns Of Homebuyers - Supreme Court
Homebuyers "suffer the impact of the unholy nexus between builders and planners," acknowledged the Supreme Court of India, adding that "the few who raise their voices have to pursue a long and expensive battle for rights with little certainty of outcomes."
These observations came on Tuesday when a top court bench presided by Justice DY Chandrachud upheld the Allahabad High Court's decision to demolish two towers of Emerald Court Group Housing Society, a Supertech Ltd. construction in Noida.
The high court had found that the towers were constructed by the builder in violation of development norms, while colluding with the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority.
The building plan for the project was sanctioned in 2005. Subsequently, a supplementary lease of deed was executed after more land was leased to the project. The building plan was revised thrice until 2012 and the two towers in question were being constructed as part of the revised plans.
The project's residents welfare association approached the Allahabad High Court, which held that the towers violated norms. Supertech Ltd. appealed the order in the Supreme Court but lost.
Two Towers In Project Violated Norms: Supreme Court
The apex court in this case was examining whether the two towers of the project—Towers 16 and 17—were constructed in violation of the norms.
It said the land which was allotted through the supplementary lease deed formed part of original plot and would be governed by the same terms and conditions as the original lease deed.
The court found that the two towers violated norms because:
They violated fire safety norms.
The first revision plan contained provision for a garden area which was obliterated in the second revised plan for the towers.
The consent of flat owners wasn't sought before modifying the promised plan and therefore elimination of the garden area to make way for the two towers was violative of the UP Apartments Act, 2010.
The two towers weren't part of the original project and therefore the consent of individual flat owners (individually or through RWA) of the original fifteen towers was a necessary requirement under the UP Apartments Act, 2010, and UP 1975 Act before the construction.
Sanctions given by New Okhla Industrial Development Authority in 2009 and 2012 for the construction of the two towers violated the minimum distance requirement.
The top court also had some strong words for the Authority.
Collusion Between Builder And Authorities: Supreme Court
The apex court said the record of the case was replete ‘’with instances which highlight the collusion between the officers of NOIDA (the authority) with the appellant (Supertech Ltd.)".
The case has revealed a nefarious complicity of the planning authority in the violation by the developer of the provisions of lawSupreme Court of India
It gave reasons to support the observation of collusion. These included:
The second revised plan sanctioned in 2009 was in clear breach of New Okhla Industrial Development Building Regulations and Directions, 2006.
The authority failed to disclose the building plans to the RWA despite the requirement contained in all sanctioned plans that the plan would have to be displayed at the construction site of Supertech.
The chief financial officer addressed a communication to the authority over violation of minimum distance requirement in the project but it received no response and neither did the authority investigate into the issue.
Construction for the two towers began five months before the sanction for the second revised plan was received in 2009. The court noted that the authority took no action.
The rampant increase in unauthorised constructions across urban areas, particularly in metropolitan cities where soaring values of land place a premium on dubious dealings has been noticed in several decisions of this Court. This state of affairs has often come to pass in no small a measure because of the collusion between developers and planning authorities.Supreme Court of India
The top court further noted that its judgments in the last four decades have emphasised on the duty of planning bodies while sanctioning building plans.
It also said the impact of the unholy nexus between builders and planning authorities affects the life of homebuyers the most. Despite this, the few who raise their voice have to have to pursue a long and expensive battle for rights with little certainty of outcomes, it said.
As this case demonstrates, they're denied access to information and are victims of misinformation. Hence, the law must step in to protect their legitimate concerns.Supreme Court of India
The court ordered the two towers should be demolished and the cost should be borne by Supertech Ltd. The company will also have to refund the flat buyers of the two towers along with interest at the rate of 12% per annum.
The company has also been directed to pay Rs 2 crore to the RWA of the project.