It was the relentless pursuit of justice over a decade by a group of senior citizens that resulted in the Supreme Court’s Tuesday order for demolition of the illegal 40-storey twin towers of real estate group Supertech in Noida.
These senior citizens, including a retired DIG of the CISF, a former DRDO official and a deputy director general in Telecom Department, often travelled unreserved in trains for court hearings in Allahabad and even had to collect donations to continue their legal battle against the builder.
Now with the Supreme Court’s decision, residents of Emerald Court in Sector 93 of Noida are full of praise for these senior citizens and their perseverance for justice over 12 years.
In 2009, four residents went up against Supertech’s plan for twin towers, which were coming up in violation of building by-laws, and formed a core legal committee that moved court.
UBS Teotia, 79, SK Sharma, 74, Ravi Bajaj, 65, and MK Jain, 59, were credited with bringing down the builder on its knees.
MK Jain was the only exception in the senior citizens’ club but he died earlier this year due to COVID-19, while Mr Bajaj withdrew from the committee last year citing personal reasons, said Mr Sharma who had retired as deputy DG in the Telecom Department.
“These were old men who fought this case. Mr Teotia, who was a DIG in the CISF, led the battle with all of us by his side,” Mr Sharma told news agency Press Trust of India, while also crediting their lawyers Jayant Bhooshan and Aneesh Agrawal for skilfully presenting the case in courts.
Rajesh Rana, 62, the current president of Emerald Court RWA, said the original team of four was extremely involved in the case.
“We had a good legal team but these senior citizens left no stone unturned. From following case details, gathering documents to managing day to day activities, they really made the team work,” Mr Rana, who retired from the corporate world two years ago, said.
Asked about the long-drawn battle, Mr Sharma recalled that their case started in 2012 in the Allahabad High Court and on every date at least two of them made sure they attended it.
“Often we had to travel unreserved in trains to Allahabad. There were also times when we resorted to donations in order to keep the legal battle alive. We went door to door for donations from the residents,” he said.
He said the conflict was clear. The builder was developing two more high-rise towers in the housing project in violation of rules. The new towers impacted ventilation, sunlight and response to emergency situations for the other residents of the 15 towers, he claimed.
“Every time we discussed the legalities of the matter with residents, there would be some with a differing opinion. But by and large, we got full support of all residents,” Mr Sharma said.
Mr Jain’s wife said her husband was a “brave man” who pursued the case legally.
“We have often seen how some people withdraw themselves from legal cases, which most of the times tend to be long-drawn processes. But he never got scared. He would have been very happy today with the court’s decision,” she told news agency PTI.
In a setback to Supertech Ltd, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed demolition of twin 40-storey towers of the realty major’s Emerald Court project in Noida for violation of building bye-laws “in collusion” with the local authority officials.
Both the towers – Apex and Ceyane – were under construction when the Allahabad High Court had ordered their demolition. After Supertech Ltd approached the Supreme Court against the high court order, a status quo was ordered.
The Supreme Court said the case record is replete with instances which highlight the collusion between officers of the Noida Authority with Supertech Ltd and its management and involvement of the planning authority with the developer in violation of laws.
The Supreme Court directed that the entire amount of home buyers be refunded with 12 per cent interest from the time of the booking and the Residents Welfare Association be paid Rs 2 crore for the harassment caused due to the construction of the twin towers.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)