Approving the demolition of 17 illegal floors of a building in suburban Kandivali here, the Bombay High Court has held that flat-buyers must find out whether a construction is legal before buying a flat.

“If they (buyers) are carried away by the brochure and advertisements and do not make such inquiries, then, they cannot turn around and seek assistance of the Courts,” the division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice S. C. Dharmadhikari held recently.

Sudhir Khandwala, the petitioner, had approached the court against the Muncipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai’s (MCGM) decision not to regularise the construction above the seventh floor in the 24-storey Gaurav Gagan building.

Mr. Khandwala, who owns two flats in the building on the 10th floor, contended that he was not aware that construction was illegal when he bought the flats.

The building was constructed by Ravi Estate Developers, which contended before the court that MCGM commissioner should use his discretionary powers to regularise the construction.

But Court held that regularisation cannot be “matter of course”, because otherwise town-planning would go haywire and it “would encourage builders to violate laws openly. They will always proceed on the basis that regulations can be breached with impunity and all that they would be visited with is high compounding fees.”

It was also contended that MCGM could have condoned the illegal construction, which was in excess of permissible Floor Space Index (FSI), by allowing the builder to buy Transfer of Development Rights. (By way of TDR, extra FSI is given to those displaced in public projects.)

However, the High Court pointed out, “by such process, all constructions, which are unauthorised, can be regularized. Such a course would have disastrous consequences.”

Further, the court added, “In all such cases, the flat purchasers are aggrieved but their interest cannot override those of the members of the public at large.”

Saying that in the age of internet and Right To Information Act it is not difficult to find out whether construction has all the permissions, the Court said, ”If they purchase flats without bothering to make inquiries and seeking details of the construction at site, then, they are themselves to blame.”

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