The Supreme Court’s order to Supertech to refund the money of home buyers affected by the Allahabad High Court’s order to demolish its under-construction 40-storey twin towers in Noida for flouting building norms sets a good precedent for thousands of buyers duped by unscrupulous builders.
The court’s observation that it is the builders’ obligation to give flats with clear title is music to the ears of buyers who are often forced to enter into protracted litigation due to builders’ follies — be it questionable land deals or unauthorised constructions.
What is all the more important is that the SC ordered Supertech to pay compound interest at the rate of 14 per cent per annum to the buyers in three months.
uyers opting to swap their flats in the twin towers with the ones coming up in other Supertech projects also got a nod from the SC as the court said they cannot wait indefinitely. But unfortunately, the Supertech case is not an isolated one.
India is witnessing rapid urbanisation and the phenomenon is likely to accelerate exponentially in the decades to come as people migrate from villages to cities in search of better education and jobs.
Surprisingly, the real estate sector remains largely unregulated. The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill 2013 that was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August 2013 is still pending in Parliament.
In such a situation it is largely left to the judiciary to come to the rescue of innocent buyers. No wonder the SC has been acting tough against builders violating norms. Adopting a zero tolerance approach against unauthorised constructions in cities in violation of municipal laws, the SC had last year ruled that cooperative group house societies can’t construct floors beyond the sanctioned plan.
In October 2012, the SC had ordered demolition of a multi-storey building in Kolkata which was constructed illegally. The top court had also imposed a fine of `25 lakh on the violator of laws.
One is also aware of the SC’s order to demolish illegal floors in Campa Cola Housing Society in Mumbai. But unfortunately, the flat owners did not get the relief that accrued to Supertech flat buyers, perhaps because they knew about the illegality.