In an order expected to have wide-spread implications for home buyers who have their savings stuck in litigious property, the Supreme Court has directed Supertech to refund, with interest, those allotted flats in its Noida twin towers, which are now under threat of demolition.
The realty major must return within 30 days the principal amount paid by those buyers who have accepted its refund offer, the court ruled Wednesday. “They can’t wait indefinitely. They are entitled to their hard-earned money. They can’t keep moving court,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha.
The SC also ordered Supertech to pay 14% compoundable interest on the principal amount by October 30. It clarified that only those who responded to Supertech’s refund offer before the cut-off date of April 30 would be eligible.
Of 600 buyers allotted flats in two under-construction towers of Supertech’s Emerald Court in Noida’s Sector 93A, 53 have opted for refund. They will also be paid interest from 2009 onwards, the year work started on the Apex and Ceyane towers. Buyers had paid between Rs. 70 lakh and Rs. 90 lakh as principal amount.
The bench also said that for those who wanted an alternate flat instead of a refund, Supertech would accommodate them in its other housing projects. Around 100 buyers have opted for this solution, though only one approached the court, on whose plea the SC gave relief.
Acting on a petition filed by the RWA of Emerald Court, which houses 15 other residential towers, the Allahabad HC on April 11 ordered demolition of the twin towers for flouting building norms. The RWA contended that the builder had changed the plan outlay from the original 11 storeys to 40 storeys without its consent, and that the new height of the towers threatened the safety of other residents. Subsequently, the Noida authority sealed the twin towers on April 15.
On April 19, Supertech issued a letter to the buyers offering them either a refund or flats in other projects.
It also moved SC against the demolition order. But after the top court on May 5 ordered status quo on the high court ruling, the company seemed to go back on its offer, contending that it wasn’t in a position to refund buyers as the interest was higher than the principal. This prompted the 53 home buyers to seek redressal from the SC.
“It is your obligation to give flats with clear titles but the HC directed you to demolish the buildings. They (buyers) cannot remain in limbo. They cannot remain out of shelter. You cannot say no,” the court told Supertech on Wednesday.