The Telegraph
Thursday , July 31 , 2014
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SC orders refund for Noida flat-owners

New Delhi, July 30: The Supreme Court today directed Supertech Ltd to refund with 14 per cent interest the deposits made by 53 investors for flats in two 40-storied towers in Noida.

The apex court said the real estate firm could not “play with the lives” of the people by constructing flats in “contravention of law” and then force them to do the rounds of courts to get their money back.

“You need to pay the principal and interest. They have not purchased litigation. They have purchased the flats. If you don’t pay, we will direct. You can’t play with the lives of the people,” the bench said, passing a formal refund order.

Allahabad High Court had ordered demolition of over 857 flats in the two towers as they were constructed in violation of building and environmental norms. On April 11, the high court had directed the realtor to refund the money to the buyers.

The builder had moved the apex court, which stayed the high court order.

But 53 investors, through advocate A. Ramesh, moved the apex court for a refund. They pleaded that, irrespective of the outcome of the builder’s petition in the apex court, they did not want to take possession of the controversial flats and wanted their money back.

Today, a three-judge bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Kurien Joseph and R.F. Nariman acceded to their plea and gave a dressing-down to the builder through its senior counsel, Ravindra Srivastava.

Justice Lodha said the realtor should refund the principal amount by August 30 and the 14 per cent interest by October 31, which would be calculated from 2009 when the deposits were collected by the builder.

Rejecting the plea that the company was in a financial mess and refunds would cause a huge dent on its finances, the apex court said: “They spent their hard-earned money for getting a shelter. Definitely they are entitled to refund.

“They can’t be going around the court to fight builders like you. They are not keen on having the flats.”

The bench said it was obligatory for a builder to construct flats with a clear plan and title deeds.

“The fact is the high court had directed demolition of the flats as, according to it, the construction is in contravention of law. The money, which you have collected as deposits, return it with interest.

“Just put yourself in the position of a person who is an allottee,” Justice Lodha told the counsel who tried to resist the refund order.

The court said that on April 19, the builder had offered to return the money to the buyers and there was no reason to go back on the assurance.

The counsel said the builder had given the assurance under pressure from the buyers who had gheraoed the company office and its staff. But the bench was not impressed with the argument, and passed the refund order.

Senior counsel M.N. Rao, appearing on behalf of the investors, said the two-bedroom flats cost around Rs 70 lakh and the three-bedroom ones about Rs 90 lakh each. It is not known how many of the 53 flats are two-bedroom ones and how many three-bedroom ones.