Duped flat buyers’ rights crushed by builders’ money power, official might: SC

The complaint against the realty major was filed by a homebuyer, Arvind Kumar Singh, in 2014. File Photo  

The Supreme Court on Tuesday condemned the “dubious dealings" of builders and authorities in metropolitan cities that rob ordinary people of their life savings and dream of owning a home.

The court said flat buyers have, on paper, the power to act against such corrupt authorities and venal builders. But in reality, any attempt made by flat buyers, who are often a diverse and unseen lot, end up crushed under the builders’ money power and the legal authority flexed by officials.

Ordering the demolition of two unauthorised 40-storey towers of real estate major Supertech Limited at Noida in the outskirts of the Capital, a Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah said flat buyers were the ones who suffered the most from these illegal activities.

“Flat buyers suffer the impact of the unholy nexus between builders and planners. Their quality of life is affected the most. Yet, confronted with the economic might of developers and the might of legal authority wielded by planning bodies, the few who raise their voices have to pursue a long and expensive battle for rights with little certainty of outcomes… They are denied access to information and are victims of misinformation,” Justice Chandrachud wrote in a 140-page judgment pronounced on Tuesday.

‘Nefarious complicity’

The court said the case at hand had revealed numerous occasions in which the officials of the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA) and Supertech colluded to devise the building of the mammoth and illegal constructions. “The case has revealed a nefarious complicity of the planning authority in the violation by the developer of the provisions of law,” Justice Chandrachud observed.

The court said the cancer of corruption in real estate had spread quickly with land prices shooting up even as more and more people desperately seek a decent living space, especially in the metros.

“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,” Justice Chandrachud wrote.

These regulations have been put in place to protect the environment and for the safety and well-being of residents.

“Hence, when these regulations are brazenly violated by developers, more often than not with the connivance of regulatory authorities, it strikes at the very core of urban planning, thereby directly resulting in an increased harm to the environment and a dilution of safety standards,” Justice Chandrachud underscored.

In the Supertech case, the court said NOIDA had made no effort to ensure compliance of the UP Apartments Act 2010, as a result of which the rights of the flat purchasers were outrageously violated.

“This cannot point to any conclusion, other than the collusion between NOIDA and the appellant (Supertech) to avoid complying with the provisions of the applicable statutes and regulations for monetary gain, at the cost of the rights of the flat purchasers,” the court held.

It took note of the fact that neither the builder nor the authorities had deemed it important to share the details of the buildings with the residents. The Resident Welfare Association’s efforts to glean information through building records were stonewalled.

“There is an unholy nexus between the builder and the planner... the few who raised voice against this are denied access to information... the law must step in to address the legitimate concerns,” the court held.

It upheld the Allahabad High Court’s order to demolish the two towers. It ordered the demolition to be carried out in three months at the cost of Supertech and under the supervision of NOIDA, which would consult with experts from the Central Building Research Institute Roorkee for carrying it out safely. Supertech should pay the RWA ₹2 crore in costs in a month, the court directed.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 10:00:17 PM |

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