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'Illegal Construction Has To Be Dealt With Strictly': Supreme Court Orders Prosecution Of NOIDA & Supertech Officials For Collusion

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
31 Aug 2021 11:34 AM GMT
Illegal Construction Has To Be Dealt With Strictly:   Supreme Court Orders Prosecution Of NOIDA & Supertech Officials For Collusion
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Illegal construction has to be dealt with strictly to ensure compliance with the rule of law, the Supreme Court remarked while it directed the demolition of twin 40 storey towers in the Emerald Court project of Supertech Ltd in NOIDA for violation of building norms.Such constructions, the court said, strikes at the very core of urban planning, thereby directly resulting in an increased harm...

Illegal construction has to be dealt with strictly to ensure compliance with the rule of law, the Supreme Court remarked while it directed the demolition of twin 40 storey towers in the Emerald Court project of Supertech Ltd in NOIDA for violation of building norms.

Such constructions, the court said, strikes at the very core of urban planning, thereby directly resulting in an increased harm to the environment and a dilution of safety standards.

The Supreme Court also confirmed the High Court's direction to the competent authority under to grant sanction to prosecute the NOIDA officials who acted in collusion.

"..we confirm the directions of the High Court including the order of demolition and for sanctioning prosecution under Section 49 of the UPUD Act, as incorporated by Section 12 of the UPIAD Act 1976, against the officials of the appellant and the officers of NOIDA for violations of the UPIAD Act 1976 and UP Apartments Act 2010", the Court ordered.

The court noted that there is a rampant increase in unauthorized constructions across urban areas, particularly in metropolitan cities. "While the availability of housing stock, especially in metropolitan cities, is necessary to accommodate the constant influx of people, it has to be balanced with two crucial considerations – the protection of the environment and the well-being and safety of those who occupy these constructions.", the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah noted in the judgment.

The court, referring to earlier judgments in this regard, said that a breach by the planning authority of its obligation to ensure compliance with building regulations is actionable at the instance of residents whose rights are infringed by the violation of law. It also expressed the concern about the collusion between developers and planning authorities.

The following are some observations made in the judgment

Rampant increase in unauthorized constructions across urban areas,

146 The rampant increase in unauthorized constructions across urban areas, particularly in metropolitan cities where soaring values of land place a premium on dubious dealings has been noticed in several decisions of this Court. This state of affairs has often come to pass in no small a measure because of the collusion between developers and planning authorities.

Regulation of the entire process is intended to ensure that constructions which will have a severe negative environmental impact are not sanctioned. 

147 From commencement to completion, the process of construction by developers is regulated within the framework of law. The regulatory framework encompasses all stages of construction, including allocation of land, sanctioning of the plan for construction, regulation of the structural integrity of the structures under construction, obtaining clearances from different departments (fire, garden, sewage, etc.), and the issuance of occupation and completion certificates. While the availability of housing stock, especially in metropolitan cities, is necessary to accommodate the constant influx of people, it has to be balanced with two crucial considerations – the protection of the environment and the well-being and safety of those who occupy these constructions. The regulation of the entire process is intended to ensure that constructions which will have a severe negative environmental impact are not sanctioned. Hence, when these regulations are brazenly violated by developers, more often than not with the connivance of regulatory authorities, it strikes at the very core of urban planning, thereby directly resulting in an increased harm to the environment and a dilution of safety standards. PART F 120 Hence, illegal construction has to be dealt with strictly to ensure compliance with the rule of law.

The diverse and unseen group of flat buyers suffers the impact of the unholy nexus between builders and planners

148 The judgments of this Court spanning the last four decades emphasize the duty of planning bodies, while sanctioning building plans and enforcing building regulations and bye-laws to conform to the norms by which they are governed. A breach by the planning authority of its obligation to ensure compliance with building regulations is actionable at the instance of residents whose rights are infringed by the violation of law. Their quality of life is directly affected by the failure of the planning authority to enforce compliance. Unfortunately, the diverse and unseen group of flat buyers suffers the impact of the unholy nexus between builders and planners. Their quality of life is affected the most. Yet, confronted with the economic might of developers and the might of legal authority wielded by planning bodies, the few who raise their voices have to pursue a long and expensive battle for rights with little certainty of outcomes. As this case demonstrates, they are denied access to information and are victims of misinformation. Hence, the law must step in to protect their legitimate concerns.

The court noted that in K. Ramadas Shenoy v. Chief Officer, Town Municipal Council, it was held that an unregulated construction materially affects the right of enjoyment of property by persons residing in a residential area, and hence, it is the duty of the municipal authority to ensure that the area is not adversely affected by unauthorized construction. These concerns have been reiterated in the more recent decisions of this Court in Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority v. State of Kerala, Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority v. Maradu Municipality, Maradu and Bikram Chatterji v. Union of India, it said.

The Supreme Court, in May 2019, had directed to remove all the structures which were built in violation of Coastal Regulatory Zone Regulations within the prohibited area of CRZ Category in Maradu Municipality of Ernakulam District in Kerala. Later, the Court also  dismissed the review petitions filed by builders. Expressing dissatisfaction with the non-compliance of the demolition order passed against flats in Maradu, Kochi for CRZ violation, the Court called upon the Kerala Government to carry out the directions by September 2020. Finally by January 2020, all four apartments were demolished.


Case : Supertech Ltd v Emerald Court Owner Resident Welfare Association; CA 5041 of 2021
Citation : LL 2021 SC 407
Coram: Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah
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