Section 4 (4) of the Uttar Pradesh Apartment Act 2010 has been created to protect the interests of investors in residential projects in the state. Builders cannot make any changes in the layout plans once apartments in a project have been sold. Interestingly, in a case that seems to be getting complicated by the day, Noida Authority, instead of safeguarding the interests of homebuyers, seems to have gone out of its way to endorse a project in which the Act has been flouted. Not only that, the Authority’s lawyer also made a statement in Allahabad High Court (HC) on April 30, 2015 that the layout plan had not been amended, but, in a great hurry, approved it within six days of making the statement.
The HC had dismissed a case filed by Mohinder Kumar Bhatla and Aviral Bhatla, joint allottees of an apartment in Jaypee Kristal Court in Sector 128, Noida, petitioning against part of the project being sold to the builder Mahagun, for a new project, Mahagun Manorial. The changes in the project plans had been made without their (allottees’) permissions (as per the Act), the Bhatlas alleged.
The petitioners had smelt a rat when they saw an advertisement of the Mahagun project in leading newspapers. On probing further, they found that the layout plan of the project was basically the revision of their own project, Kristal Court. It had been divided in two parts – the original Kristal Court existed but was smaller with just four towers while the space for the other towers was allocated for Mahagun Manorial.
“The whole layout plan was drastically changed and the five towers of Kristal Court were replaced with six new towers of Mahagun Manorial, and their floors increased from 20 to 26 to 40 to 45. Section 4(4) of the Apartment Act 2010 clearly states that consent of all the allottees is mandatory before change in a project’s original plan.It was then that the Bhatlas decided to move to the Allahabad High Court,” says SK Pal, Bhatlas’ advocate.
During the hearing, on April 30, 2015, Noida Authority’s lawyer Shivam Yadav told the Court that the layout plan of Jaypee Greens’ Kristal Court project had neither been revised nor amended. This was the basis for the dismissal of the Bhatlas’ case, as HC saw no merit in continuing with since the Authority had claimed that no changes or revision had been made.
Surprisingly, six days after the case dismissal, Noida Authority allowed the split of the Kristal Court project. Requests for approvals came in long before, ie March 31, 2015, but the Authority did not inform the court about it during the hearing on April 30, 2015. “When the request for the change of plan (Jaypee Kristal Court) to create a new project was pending before the Noida Authority, it should have informed the HC that the proposal for an amendment was pending with it. This shows mala fide intention on the part of the Authority,” says Pal.
Now, in a strongly-worded letter to Rama Raman, CEO, Noida Authority, Mohinder Kumar Bhatla has said, “To my utter surprise I was shocked to see an advertisement in the newspaper by Mahagun that Noida Authority has approved the Mahagun Manorial Project as per letter number 2015/III – 293/785 dated 06/05/2015. It appears that Noida authority has not briefed its learned counsel of the fact that you were considering the approval of this Project in Pocket 9 B, Sector 128, Noida, as per the request letter dated 31-03-2015 sent by Messers Jaypee Infratech Ltd.”
In his letter, Bhatla has reproduced the Allahabad HC order, which says the counsel of the Development Authority has made a statement that NOIDA Authority has neither revised nor amended nor sanctioned any fresh layout plan in the project in which the petitioner claims to be one of the applicants for allotment of an apartment. “In the circumstances, the allegations made by the petitioner that initial lay out plan has been amended by bifurcation/ division/alteration does not stand. That be so, we do not find any merit in this petition warranting interference in writ jurisdiction. It is accordingly dismissed,” the HC had said.
Bhatla also requested the Noida Authority CEO to “immediately inform the court that the statement made by your counsel is not correct as the application for Mahagun Manorial was pending at that point of time and update me about the same. In case you fail to do I would be forced to approach the Honourable High Court and proceed accordingly.”
Now the question is: why did Noida Authority tell the court that the initial layout plan of Jaypee Green Group Housing Society had not been amended when a proposal for such an amendment was pending before it? There was no response to an email sent by this correspondent to Rama Raman, CEO, Noida Authority for his clarifications
PROJECT APPROVED, SAYS JAYPEE
When HT Estates first published a report on the changed plans of the Jaypee Kristal Court project, on May 23, 2015, the response from Jaypee was: In order to have clarity in this regard please note that the development in Noida by Jaypee Group is divided into various sub-projects. It includes residential, commercial, institutional and recreational development as per the layout plan approved by Noida Authority. The development as per the layout plan is being carried out in a phased manner since the year 2008 as per the NOIDA Building Regulations. The various group housing clusters/pockets are given names primarily for identification purposes.
Jaypee has been given the right to develop the properties on its own or through any other person under arrangements considered most appropriate for the said purpose. The arrangement with Mahagun is in line with the said right of Jaypee.
Jaypee Greens Wish Town Project is continuing as per the layout plans approved by NOIDA Authority from time to time. The four tower of Kristal Court Sub-project are under construction. You may note the following in this regard.
We may also mention here that one buyer along with the joint allottee in Kristal Court had filed a Writ Petition in the Hon’ble High Court of Allahabad on 27th April 2015 alleging certain incorrect facts. The Hon’ble Court after examining did not find any merit in this petition and dismissed the writ petition in the first hearing itself vide its order dated 30.04.2015.”
Commenting on this, Aviral Bhatla said, “On one hand the builder says that Jaypee Greens Wish Town Project is continuing as per the layout plans approved by NOIDA Authority from time to time and the four tower of Kristal Court Sub-project are under construction. However, when the Kristal Court project was sold in 2011-12, it was projected as having 11 towers on both sides of the golf course. Where have the rest of the towers gone? This shows that the plan has been amended without taking the consent of allottees."