New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the realty major Supertech Ltd to refund the money with interest to all home-buyers, who have booked flats in now to be razed 40-storey twin towers of Emerald Court project by February 28. It rejected the formula suggested for appropriation in the refund amount by the realty firm and said that the computation formula suggested by amicus curiae Gaurav Agrawal, shall be adopted to ascertain the amount due and payable.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Bela Trivedi was hearing a batch of contempt petitions filed by homebuyers alleging that the builder was not complying with the directions of August 31, last year by the top court on the refund with interest and instead of making deductions on the total amount.
The bench said, “In our view, the refund which is due and payable arises from the judgement of this court. At this stage, when the court is exercising its contempt jurisdiction, it would be necessary to provide a solution that is consistent with the tenor of the main judgement, to effect a refund of the amounts which were paid by the home buyers together with interest as directed”.
The bench said that having regard to the nature of directions, which has been issued, by this court, it is inclined to accept the computation, which has been made by the amicus curiae. “Consequently, there is no question at this stage of permitting the developer to carry out an appropriation in the manner indicated in the submissions made by senior advocate S. Ganesh (representing Supertech)”, it said.
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The top court said that consideration which had weighed with this court when it had exercised its jurisdiction under Article 142, of the constitution to order a refund are entirely distinct and the interest of justice which weighed with the court in directing the refund must be duly subserved.
“In the circumstances, the developer M/s Supertech shall refund the amounts which are due and payable in terms of the computation which has been set out above as prepared by the amicus curiae on or before February 28”, it said.
It added that payments made towards refunds that have already been made shall be taken due note of in computing the balance which is due and payable. “The modalities for the payment of the amount is agreed to be sorted out at a meeting which shall be convened between representatives of Supertech, home buyers, and the amicus”, it said.
The top court also clarified that the home buyers, who have not filed contempt petitions before the court, shall also be liable to be paid the refund amount with interest and noted the assurances given by Ganesh that within a week it would be done. “Don’t make them come to the court with contempt petitions”, the bench told Ganesh, who assured that within a week, if bank details are provided by the home buyers, the amount will be transferred.
On January 17, the top court had directed Supertech to execute a contract within a week with a Mumbai-based company to demolish its twin 40-storey towers in its Emerald Court project in Noida, which have been found illegal for being in violation of building norms.
The NOIDA authority informed the bench that it has finalized the company Edifice Engineering for demolishing the twin towers in consultation with the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) Roorkee. On January 12, the top court had asked Supertech to put ”its house in order” and refund the money of home buyers of its Emerald Court project along with interest or face serious consequences.
It had said that the court will not tolerate it if it finds that the realty firm is finding all kinds of ruses to avoid complying with the orders of the court.
The top court had on August 31, last year ordered the demolition of the firm’s twin 40-storey towers, which were under construction, within three months for violation of building norms in ”collusion” with NOIDA officials, holding that illegal construction has to be dealt with strictly to ensure compliance with the rule of law.
The Noida authority had received a rap on its knuckles as the top court pointed out multiple incidents of collusion of its officials with the Supertech Ltd in the Emerald Court project and violations of norms by the realty major in the construction of the twin towers.
The top court had directed that the entire amount of home buyers be refunded with 12 percent interest from the time of the booking and the RWA of Emerald Court project be paid Rs 2 crore for the harassment caused due to the construction of the twin towers, which would have blocked sunlight and fresh air to the existing residents of the housing project.