Reminding the builders that a person “buys a house and not litigation”, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered Supertech Limited to refund all those who had purchased flats in the illegally constructed twin towers in Noida’s Emerald Court complex but wanted to opt out now due to the court cases.
A bench led by Chief Justice R M Lodha directed the real estate firm to give back money by August-end to flat owners who sought a refund after the Allahabad High Court directed that the 40-storey residential towers — Apex and Ceyane — be demolished.
The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton F Nariman, ordered for payment of compound interest at the rate of 14 per cent per annum to such allottees by the end of October, while dismissing Supertech’s plea that the interest component could be more than the principal amount in some cases. The flats’ prices range from Rs 60 lakh to Rs 1 crore.
More than 50 of the around 600 allottees have sought a refund on the grounds that the demolition order left them in a lurch. The towers have a total of 857 flats and they are now sealed by Noida authority.
Underscoring the perplexity of those who had invested their hard-earned money to buy the flats, the bench said flat owners could not be asked to wait till the cases were wrapped up. “They cannot wait indefinitely. They are entitled to their money. They cannot keep moving courts in the ongoing litigation. It was your obligation to give flats with clear titles but the High Court directed you to demolish the buildings because of the contraventions in by-laws,” the bench said.
“They cannot remain in limbo… You cannot say no to the refund… They have not purchased litigation but flats…,” the court said.
“…You pay the principal amount now and we will give you time to pay interest,” the bench said, directing the builders to consider providing alternate flats to allottees who did not want a refund but were looking for other properties.
The order came on a batch of petitions filed by Supertech, Noida Authority and homebuyers. Challenging the Allahabad High Court’s demolition order, Supertech has claimed that the two towers were being constructed as per “approved building plans” and that “there is no violation”. The Authority had backed the claim.