Senior citizens who waged decade-long legal war against builder's illegal twin-towers in Noida
It was the relentless pursuit of justice over a decade by a group of senior citizens that resulted in the Supreme Court's order for demolition of the illegal 40-storey twin towers of a real estate group in Noida.
These senior citizens, including former central government and paramilitary officers, often travelled unreserved in trains for hearings in the Allahabad High Court and even had to collect donations to continue their legal battle against the builder.
In 2009, four residents went up against Supertech's plan for twin towers, which were coming up in violation of building bye-laws, and formed a core legal committee that moved the court.
Jain was the only exception in the senior citizens' club but he passed away earlier this year due to COVID-19, while Bajaj withdrew from the committee last year citing personal reasons, said Sharma who had retired as deputy director-general from the Telecom Department.
''These were old men who fought this case. Teotia, who was a DIG in the CRPF, led the battle with all of us by his side,'' Sharma told PTI, while also crediting their lawyers Jayant Bhooshan and Aneesh Agrawal for skilfully presenting the case in courts.
Teotia said nobody believed that an order like this could be passed against the builder and more than half of the residents of the building's society were also not convinced.
''But we were sure and had facts and rules on our side,'' Teotia said.
He recalled the whole legal battle as a ''tough journey'' involving 30 hearings over a period of seven years in the Supreme Court alone.
''Before that we would travel to Allahabad for high court dates. Travelled 3rd class in trains,'' the former DIG said, adding that collecting documents from local, state and national authorities was also ''very tough''.
Teotia, who turned 80 on August 30, said the legal and related expenses cost them about Rs 1 crore, for which they had to go door to door for donations from society members.
''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,'' Rana, who retired from the corporate world two years ago, said.
''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 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,'' Sharma said.
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 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 apex court against the high court order, a status quo was ordered.
The top 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 apex 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.
Supertech said it would file a review petition over the order, while Noida Authority said it will ensure full compliance of the SC's verdict and ensure action against its officials who are found guilty of violation in the case.
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