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28 August, 2022 marks the spectacle and historic demolition of one of the tallest buildings, albeit illegal, constructed in India. What was built a decade ago was razed to the ground in nine seconds. This explosive demolition also saw the end of a decade long battle between the residents of Emerald Court and the Noida based development company Supertech Ltd.

However, was justice really delivered to the residents who were at the ground zero of this exhaustive legal battle?

Let's take a look

Brief history of events that led to the demolition

The Twin Towers - Apex and Cayena- that were constructed in 2009 and demolished in 2022 entailed a decade long battle against a false promise by the developers. A promise of ‘green’ area in front of Tower -1 was later changed to two high rise buildings- the infamous Twin Towers.

The changed plan included two towers that would be raised till 40 floors above the ground in place of the ‘green’ area.

Thus began the decade long battle against the illegal raising of towers by Supertech and the justice sought by the residents of Emerald Court.

The residents of Emerald Court had first approached the Allahabad High Court which in turn ordered the demolition of the illegal towers in 2014. Following the directive, the Supertech Limited took the case to the Supreme Court of India.

Then started a battle for justice between the Emerald Court residents and the Noida-based development company. After several back and forth the Supreme Court in 2021 directed that the twin towers should be demolished. Supertech then appealed tot he apex court to reconsider their directive. the latter, however, did not budge and cited that the Noida Authority and Supertech had engaged in "nefarious complicity" and ordered the company to demolish the buildings at its own expense under the guidance of the Noida Authority.

Decision delayed, but was justice served?

The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, introduced by the government in 2016, was aimed at bringing clarity and fair practices that would protect the interests of buyers and also impose penalties on errant builders.

The August 2021 order of the Supreme Court highlighted the “acts of collusion between the officials of NOIDA and Supertech". It also said that homebuyers cannot be taken for granted. It noted that the construction of additional towers had “necessarily reduced the undivided interest of the individual flat owners in the common area by adding new flats and increasing the number from 650 to 1,500".

According to Supertech Limited, Noida Authority had approved of the plan to construct the twin towers in the Emerald Court campus. "The case has revealed a nefarious complicity of the planning authority in the violation by the developer of the provisions of law," the Supreme Court had observed.

NOIDA Authority CEO Ritu Maheshwari is confident that the Supertech case comes as a lesson, not only for builders, but government officials as well. 

Maheshwari said in the case of the twin towers, it was not like the maps were not approved by the Noida Authority.

The unfolding of the events, which saw the plan getting revised thrice based on the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) contention that allows builders to increase the number of floors of a building with the consent of buyers, could be considered a lesson on rock for promoters, builders against the prevalent malpractices in the really unorganised real estate sector.

Homebuyers' reaction

Many homebuyers have felt dejected by just the demolition of the twin towers. According to PTI, over 200 homebuyers from different projects of Supertech, who are fighting a legal battle against the builder seeking refund of the payments made, poured their frustration out on social media on Sunday.

“The builder is already in a cash crunch. From where did the company derive funds for demolishing and refunding in the twin towers case? Obviously, in order to honour the Supreme Court decision, funds from existing projects will be diverted again and people like us will never get either our flats or refund," said Sunny Singh to PTI, who has a booking in Supertech’s Azalia project in Gurugram.

“One thing that I did not understand from twin towers story is 'who actually got punished'. Just demolition of illegal towers is sufficient? Why wasn't the builder sent to jail?", asked another. 

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