Class 11 student moves Supreme Court in Gurugram condo collapse
The petition filed on February 19 demanded an independent probe into the incident, a structural audit by the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi of the construction material used by the builder/developer and punitive damages and compensation from all those involved.
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Haryana government, the department of town and country planning (DTCP), real estate firm Chintels India and others on a petition filed by a Class 11 student whose mother was killed in a building cave-in incident at the Chintels Paradiso condominium in Gurugram on February 10.
The petition filed on February 19 demanded an independent probe into the incident, a structural audit by the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi of the construction material used by the builder/developer and punitive damages and compensation from all those involved, including state government officials for granting occupancy certificates for the towers in the complex, which the plea alleged to be a “death trap”.
A bench of justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy said, “We are issuing notice to ensure if there is any wrongdoing in the (real estate) industry, it can be taken care of,” and posted the matter after three weeks.
The court issued the notice to the Haryana government, the department of town and country planning, district administrator, Gurugram commissioner of police, besides the developer Chintels India Private Limited, its directors Ashok Solomon, Prashant Solomon and Om Chandra Srivastava, and the builder, Bhayana Builders Private Limited.
Ceiling slabs of a portion of six flats collapsed on February 10 at Chintels Paradiso, killing two residents. Two FIRs have been registered in the case. In one of the FIRs registered by district town planner RS Bhath, it has been alleged that licensee, the structural engineer and the contractors are solely responsible for the incident.
“He (petitioner) felt a shock wave and even before he could realise, there was debris all over the place and the whole living room area had collapsed. The petitioner looked at the ceiling and realised that the living room of the upper floors, corner to corner had collapsed,” the petition said. Presently, the petitioner and his sister are staying with a relative in Delhi. They have demanded exemplary damages to be paid to the victims who lost their loved ones in the incident and compensation for losing out on motherly care and affection at such a young age.
Advocate Jyoti Taneja who argued the petition told the court that the incident was avoidable as this was not the first such instance reported at the apartment complex situated in Gurugram’s Sector 109. Citing media reports, she pointed out that in July last year, the ceiling of a balcony situated in the same complex gave way due to seepage. She submitted that only a thorough investigation by a special investigation team (SIT) could reveal the administrative lapses and negligence following the July incident.
She said that the residents of the other floors of the 18-storey tower where the incident took place have been temporarily shifted to adjacent towers in the same complex. “The alternative accommodation that is being offered to the petitioner and other residents of the society are adjacent towers in the very same society, which have been made by the very same builder, which is nothing short of a death trap. Media reports suggest that the said towers have developed cracks and it is not known if they are structurally safe and habitable.”
Demanding a structural audit of the material used for constructing these flats, the petition sought the appointment of IIT-Delhi for the purpose.
The petition also alleged administrative lapses, saying no action was taken after the July incident that should have raised alarm bells. “It is baffling as to how the DTCP Haryana issued the occupancy certificate to the society. Had the authorities been more vigilant, surely, the incident of February 10 could have been avoided,” the petition added.
The bench had heard the matter last Friday as well. It was on the court’s suggestion that the petitioner included DTCP and commissioner of police as parties. Though the petitioner’s father registered a criminal complaint following the February 10 incident, Taneja told the court that no arrest has been made so far.
She said, “The petitioner is invoking the jurisdiction of this court so that other people don’t have to suffer the same fate and such unfortunate incidents can be avoided in the future involving people’s life and safety, a sacrosanct right under the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India is respected.”
The petition also demanded a special investigation team (SIT) to inquire into the role of the administrative officers who possibly colluded with the builder in granting the occupancy certificate for the flats constructed with “substandard construction material” and to fix liability on the involved persons.