SC stays demolition of Supertech towers

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday spared Supertech’s twin 40-storeyed residential towers from demolition for now but ordered that the controversial buildings remain sealed till further orders and added that the flats cannot not be further sold, allotted or transferred.

A bench of Chief Justice R M Lodha and Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph passed this interim order pending a final verdict on appeals by the builder and flat owners who had challenged an Allahabad high court judgment ordering demolition of the towers on the ground that these were constructed in violation of building bylaws.

The Supreme Court bench was quick in giving interim relief against demolition of the Supertech towers but it was quicker to sniff an unholy nexus between the builder and Noida administration.

At the beginning of the hearing, the bench said if it finally ordered demolition of unauthorized floors built in collusion with Noida officials, the authority would have to refund to the builder the construction cost of floors to be razed.

As Supertech’s counsel Mukul Rohatgi and Noida, through additional solicitor general L N Rao, pointed out that there was no violation of any bylaw and that the HC misdirected it by ordering demolition of the twin towers, the bench asked some simple questions: “What were the number of floors sanctioned initially, when did the construction commence and when did it get permission to build 40 floors?”

From the history of the sanctioned plan, which kept increasing the number of floors in favour of the builder, the court found that the initial sanction in 2005 permitted the builder to construct ground plus nine floors. Next year, it was given a revised sanction for construction of ground plus 11 floors.

On November 26, 2009, the authority allowed the builder to construct ground plus 24 floors and construction started a month or two later, Rohatgi said.

The bench asked, “If you had sanction for 24 floors, the foundation of the towers must have been of the nature to sustain the load of a 24-storey building. How did you (the builder) add 16 more floors? Are you not putting the lives of people in danger?”

Rohatgi surprised the bench by saying, “At the time of laying the foundation, the builder knew that he will get permission for constructing 40-storey building.” Surprisingly, sanction for ground plus 40 floors came two-and-a-half years after the builder started construction of the towers, which was supposed to be ground plus 24 floors high.

This meant the builder knew two-and-a-half years in advance that he would get sanction from Noida administration to construct 16 more floors than the sanctioned plan with which he started construction.

The bench said in surprise, “Is it not a sad state of affairs? It is frightening actually. What is Noida doing? Are these sanctioned constructions as per building bylaws?”

Both Rohatgi and Rao said no building bylaws were violated and assured the court that even the national building laws were scrupulously followed in according sanction and the builder had followed it.

The residents’ welfare association of the Supertech complex, which had successfully petitioned the HC against the 40-storey twin towers, drew the court’s attention to how the two towers were built on part of the plot originally earmarked for green area.

The bench asked Noida, “How is this realignment of green area allowed? Merely because the builder was allotted more land, can he shift the green area wherever he wants? If green area was near an existing tower, just because the builder purchases extra FAR, can he shift the green area to another corner? What is the procedure for realignment of green area?”

All these questions will have to be answered by Noida administration and Supertech when the court hears the matter again after getting response to their petitions from residents association, the petitioner before the HC.

Source: TOI


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