SC to hear in open court review pleas of Maradu flat owners for relief from builders

New Delhi, Nov 22 (PTI) The Supreme Court Friday agreed to hear in open court the review pleas of Kochi's Maradu flat owners seeking appropriate relief from the builders for demolition of their flats constructed in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.

The Kerala government informed the top court that one-member committee headed by Justice (retd) Balakrishnan Nair had received 274 claim petitions from 279 flats owners till November 15 and they have to disburse Rs. 61.50 crore.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee said it will hear the petition filed by flat owners seeking appropriate relief from the builders in open court.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the flat owners, said they have filed the review petition and it should be heard in open courts so that appropriate relief can be sought from the builders against demolition of flats.

Counsel for the Kerala government said it has filed the status report on the demolition ordered by the apex court and the order has been complied with partially.

The bench asked the state government to ensure that its earlier orders including demolition of flats are fully complied with.

The state government in the status report said that of the Rs 61.50 crore total interim compensation, it has till now disbursed Rs 27.99 crore to 142 flat owners and it has to pay Rs 33.51 crore more to the rest.

It said that accounts and assets of three builders have been attached and the money has not been realised from them.

The status report, filed through chief secretary Tom Jose, sought direction to the one-member committee for asking the builders to deposit Rs 61.50 crore with the government.

With regard to the demolition of the flats, the chief secretary said two agencies have been selected for the implosion and the process of demolishment is underway.

'The dates for blasting have been fixed as December 11, 2020 for Holy Faith and Alfa Serene and December 12 for Golden Kayaloram and Jain Coral Cove,' the status report said.

The top court said it would hear the matter in the second week of January.

It had on October 25 asked the Kerala government to give Rs 25 lakh each as interim compensation to the owners of Maradu flats, being demolished on the court's orders for violation of environment norms by builders, after it was informed that some of them were given a lower amount.

It had directed the builders to deposit Rs 20 crore within one month with the court-appointed committee in the matter, and said the attached bank account of the builders be detached for depositing the amount.

It had said that the one-member committee will oversee the demolition and to assess total compensation payable to affected flat owners.

The court on September 30 refused to entertain a plea of flat owners seeking stay on its order to demolish the four apartment complexes in Maradu which were built in violation of CRZ norms.

On September 27, the court directed demolition of the flats within 138 days, a timeline suggested by the Kerala government, and had asked the state to pay Rs 25 lakh interim compensation to each flat owner within four weeks.

It had said the government may consider recovering the interim compensation amount, which will be paid to flat owners, from the builders and the promoters.

It clarified that its primary concern was that no construction should have been carried out at the eco-fragile coastal zone and the question was not regarding any individual.

On May 8, the apex court had directed that these buildings be removed within a month as they were constructed in a notified CRZ, which was part of the tidally-influenced water body in Kerala.

It had passed the order after taking note of a report of a three-member committee, which had stated that when the buildings were built, the area was already notified as a CRZ and construction was prohibited. PTI MNL ABA SA

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