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‘SC's Campa Cola verdict lets off unscrupulous builders’

India Infoline News Service/ Mumbai 09:00 , Apr 29, 2013

The residents, many of whom are senior citizens or have young children, have lived there for more than 25- years.

An unprecedented order of the Supreme Court will render 200 families homeless or with uninhabitable apartments. The landmark judgment delivered by the nation’s highest court permits the B.M.C. to demolish all structures above the fifth floor of the seven buildings in the Campa Cola Compound, Worli.


The residents, many of whom are senior citizens or have young children, have lived there for more than 25- years. They bought the apartments legally and duly registered, while the cooperative housing societies have paid property taxes in full to the government, to date.


The apartments were constructed on land leased to Pure Drinks Ltd in 1955, which was permitted by B.M.C in 1980 to develop it for residential purposes. Without getting the plans approved, Pure Drinks along with unscrupulous builders, Yusuf Patel, B.K. Gupta and P.S.B Construction Co erected seven buildings, two of which were high-rise buildings of 17 and 20 stories. During the construction period, the authorities issued notices to the builders to stop work. 


The builders were fined and they paid the penalty and resumed work. After the construction was completed nobody prevented the buyers from occupying their apartments or the buildings from forming co-operative housing societies. 


Unaware of these violations, the residents bought the apartments believing that they would get the occupation certificates in due course, as was the norm 25 years ago. Since 2005 the residents have been in litigation with B.M.C. trying to defend their homes and save their families from being thrown on the streets.


Strangely the SC verdict delivered on the 27th of February, 2013, has instructed the BMC to pursue the demolition notices issued to all flats above the fifth floor. In the verdict the SC has even condemned those portions of the structures that are within permissible limits for regularization. The area threatened with demolition is far in excess of the area that is beyond the permissible FSI. They have also included the water tanks and the lift rooms. While the demolition will destroy the homes of all the families with flats above the 5th floor, those below it will have to suffer without water and lifts besides tolerating dust and noise pollution created by the demolition.


The litigation was necessitated as Pure Drinks Ltd.,who by manipulating the system, misguiding the courts as well as the BMC, sold the balance smaller portion of the land, on which stands the now defunct Campa Cola factory, to Krishna Developers. The perpetrators of the crime have a double advantage. 


The additional FSI that shall accrue as a result of the unreasonable demolition of area that is within the permissible limits, in the 7 residential buildings, de-housing the ignorant flat purchasers, will eventually go back to Pure Drinks Ltd and they will be able to once again encash the same by redeveloping that much area. It is absolutely shocking how the premier court of the country has chosen to reward the perpetrators of the crime and taken innocent flat purchasers to task.


Interestingly the demolition order contrasts sharply with the laws applied to the Ulhasnagar buildings or the Mumbai slum dwellers and forest land encroachers who were permitted regularization if they could prove occupancy from 1995.


HISTORY AND TIME LINE

1)In 1955 B.M.C. leased the land to Pure Drinks Ltd. for putting up a factory. 


2)In 1980 Pure Drinks Ltd. sought permission from B.M.C. to develop a large portion of the land for residential purpose. 


3)Pure Drinks Ltd. joined hands with nefarious builders such as Yusuf Patel, B.K. Gupta and P.S.B. Construction Co. to develop the residential property. 


4)Construction was carried out from 1981 to 1989 and 7 buildings were erected, two of which were high rise buildings of 17 and 20 stories each. 


5)Apparently the construction was not as per the approved plans


6)Construction above the 5th floor in all the buildings was beyond the approved plans but the  bulk of it iswithin the permissible limits.


7)There was alleged FSI violation of 1774 sq mts on a total development of approx 19600 sq.mt.


8)During the construction period, B.M.C. issued stop work notices and collected penalties from the builders. 


9)But the plans were never officially passed.


10Residents are unaware of this


11)Residents buy flats as they are told by the builders that the plans are put up for approval, while they are actually rejected.


12)Sale agreements signed between every resident and builder carry a Title Clear certificate issued by a reputed solicitor firm. 


13)Based on the recitals in the agreement, the ignorant purchasers legitimately buy their flats


14)Government accepts relevant stamp duty from time to time and officially registers  flats.


15)However, none of the buildings are granted an Occupation Certificate.


16)Buildings are not given water connections due to this.  


17)6 out of the 7 seven buildings have been living on tanker water for the past 25 years.  


18)Residents approached the High Court for water connection as well as an Occupation Certificate 


19)High Court questions B.M.C., which claims the water connection have not be given due to the FSI violation.


20)Court expresses its disappointment over the BMC’s inaction in addressing the issue and gave them a time bound order to take action.


21)BMC immediately issues demolition notices to all floors above the 5th floor in 2005


22)Original plans are approved only till the 5th floor, and residents do not possess any copies of plans and approvals from the builders,


23Residents approach B.M.C. for the requisite plans to understand the basis of the demolition notices. 


24)Residents are refused a hearing, despite the fact that the demolition of such magnitude would displace more than 225 families from their homes occupied for over 25 years.


25)Pure Drinks Ltd., sells the balance smaller portion of the land to Krishna Developers, on which stands the now defunct Campa Cola factory.  


26)2005 Litigation initiated in the city civil court by residents, against the demolition notices issued by BMC


27)2007 – Krishna developers buys the smaller portion of the plot and intervenes in the litigation being an intervening party.


28)2010, city civil court evicts stay and the residents file an Appeal against the city civil court order (AO) in the High court


29)Aug 2011, High court dismisses the AO


30)Jan 2012, the residents file an SLP in the supreme court.


31)On 29thFeb, 2012 supreme court dismisses the SLP and asks for transfer of a writ petition pending in the high court, to the supreme court, thereby denying the residents their right to be heard in the high court and having an option to appeal if the ruling was not accorded in their favour. 


31)27/02/13 – Supreme court verdict.


32)01/04/13 – Review petition filed.


 



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