Supertech homebuyers row: SC says those who want their money back will be refunded; wants grievance redressal portal in place
In a breather to flat buyers, the Supreme Court on Friday directed that an online portal be set up for those seeking a refund of their money invested in the Supertech’s Emerald Court project in Noida. While appointing advocate Gaurav Aggarwal as the amicus curiae in the case, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that the flat buyers should register their claims for refund on the portal and also asked the builder to refund the principal amount with interest at the rate of 14%, as directed by the Allahabad High Court. Supertech has so far deposited `20 crore with the Supreme Court registry.
The twin towers — Apex and Ceyane — in its Emerald Court residential project on Noida Expressway have 857 apartments, out of which 600 have been sold. The Emerald Court House on the outskirts of the capital has 15 other towers, fully built with residents living there. There are around 53 allottees out of around 600, who had sought refund of their amount after the HC had in April 2014 ordered the demolition of the two 40-storey residential twin towers and directed Supertech to refund money to home buyers with 14% interest in three months.
To safeguard the interests of home buyers, the apex court had last week issued similar directions to the buyers of real estate developer Unitech. Buyers were asked to specify on the website whether they wanted possession of their flats or refund of the money paid to the builder. Earlier, the Supreme Court had appointed state-owned construction company NBCC India to verify compliance of safety norms by real estate firm Supertech Builders in constructing the twin towers. The NBCC in its report had said, “The open space available between the two towers Tower 1 (Aster 2) and Tower 17 is less than 20.45 metres as prescribed in the NBC rules.
Thus from the above observations and inferences, NBCC concludes the opinion that the two towers, Tower 1 (Aster 2) and Tower 17 is not compliant with the REG 24.2.1(6)of Noida Building Regulations 2010.” The apex court had in July 2014 directed Supertech to refund within a month around Rs 35 crore to the allottees of the two towers, which have been held illegal by the HC. The HC had also asked Supertech to allot alternative flats within a month to those allottees who did not want a refund and had agreed to accept builder’s offer to opt for a flat in any other Supertech project.
The high court order had come on a petition of the Emerald Court Owner Residents Welfare Association, which had alleged that the approval and construction of the two towers was “in complete violation of the Uttar Pradesh Apartment (Promotion of Construction, Ownership and Maintenance) Act”. The association has also claimed the authority had given permission to raise the height of the two towers, which was earlier supposed to have only 24 floors each, “without maintaining the mandatory distance of 16 metre from an adjoining building block”, making it “unsafe, apart from blocking air and light”.