Owning a home is a huge commitment. It’s probably the largest financial investment most Indians make in their lifetime. Thereby it is of utmost importance that one pays attention to developer background, project approvals and land title. However, it is not easy for an individual to procure all such information as it requires experts to investigate the documents. This makes the process expensive for any one single buyer to undertake. Many people rely on banks providing mortgage or construction finance on the project as the consumer assume that lenders do extensive due diligence of their own. In April 2014 the verdict of Supreme Court ordering Supertech to refund the buyers in the disputed two towers – Apex and Ceyane at Emerald Court in Sector 93A of Noida set a precedence of sorts. The complainant was the Resident Welfare Association (RWA) of the delivered portion of Emerald Court. We dig a little deeper to find out what went wrong and why such an adverse order was passed by the Supreme Court.
- Delivered more than 20,000 residential units &
- Has more than 80,000 units under development
About the Project
Supertech’s Emerald Court Noida is a contemporary residential project of Supertech Limited. The residential arena is set amidst 17.29 acres (70000 sq. meters) at Sector – 93, Noida. It comprises of 17 towers and out of which 2 towers (the ones disputed now) were to be super luxurious with features such as central air-conditioning.
What was the dispute all about?
If one goes back in time he will find that the project was fraught with irregularities since the start (2006). Originally 15 towers of 11 storeys each was supposed to be constructed as part of the Emerald Court project.
Only in the year 2009, a revised plan, including Apex and Ceyane, was submitted to the Noida Authority by purchasing additional floor area ratio (FSI). The revisions in the project plan were approved by the competent authority. The two towers Ceyane and Apex were in advance stages of construction when the Supreme Court verdict was announced. More than 21 floors in Apex and 17 in Ceyane had been casted by that time. Both these towers were supposed to be of 40 floors each.
In all about 857 apartments were planned and 600 of them were already sold when the Court ruled in the favour of the RWA. So what all was exactly wrong with these towers –
- Approvals granted in 2009 were for these 2 towers. These were for 24 floors and not 40 floors
- A setback of 16 meters is to be maintained between two adjoining buildings in Noida this is to ensure safety during earth quakes, ample ventilation and sunlight to various blocks. However the distance norm was flouted and existing buildings were now much closer than 16 meters from the newly towers i.e. Ceyane and Apex
- Violation of UP Apartments Act of 2010 – Any change in plans was to take place only after obtaining No Objection Certificate from 60% of existing buyers. No such NOCs were obtained even though the company had gone ahead and enhanced the area in the new towers
Let’s suppose, if for instance you are living in a luxurious house at a golf course society and every day when you wake up you see the plush green grounds and one day suddenly a new building comes up right adjoining your balcony area and now the best you can see is the brick wall. Sounds familiar?
The company defended itself in various courts saying that all necessary approvals were in place. This indeed is worrying as the competent authority is a government body which had given clean chit to the company at various stages in this project. We don’t wish to speculate on the relationship and arrangements between builders and regulators, however such risks persist and one has to be cautious.
The final verdict given by Supreme Court was to
- Refund the buyers with a 14% annual interest on their investments in Ceyane or Apex towers
- Permit the willing buyer to shift to any other project by the company
Summarising the events
What happened post – verdict?
As is the case in every real estate project in the country there are investors and there are end users, looks like the former lot was happy to receive a refund considering the weak real estate markets. But those who were looking to stay in the Apex or Ceyane felt duped. As of now Supertech has received the stay order from the court and the project is still not demolished.
By- Amurtya Aggarwal & Aman Tibrewal