The 32-storey Supertech twin towers in Noida came crashing down on Sunday. The razing down of these two towers – Apex and Ceyanne, were due to the dogged pursuit of justice by a group of majorly senior citizens. These men didn’t let factors like age, travel, and a lack of funds come in the way of their pursuit of justice.
This battle began in 2009 when four residents raised an alarm against Supertech’s violation of building bye-laws by building the twin towers. The core team included Uday Bhan Singh Teotia (80), S K Sharma (74), Ravi Bajaj (65), and M K Jain (59).
When the people started moving in, the society comprised 15 towers with 660 flats. An Apartments’ Owners Association (AOA) was formed, which consisted majorly of senior citizens.
Residents felt cheated immediately as they weren’t given what they were promised by the builders. Supertech had promised them a luxurious living experience surrounded by 82 per cent open area.
“We were sold the promise of living like royalty, but when we moved into the society in 2009, we realised we had not been given even half the amenities that we had paid for. Most of the brochure was a bunch of lies. Even the construction material used in the buildings was of much lower quality than was originally promised,” said Uday Bhan Singh Teotia, AOA president of Emerald Court to Hindustan Times.
The condition of the society during the monsoons in 2010 was also a deal breaker for the residents. The basements were flooded with water, and some people had to use boats to get into their cars.
Shortly after, in 2010, the builder started digging up more areas, where a shopping complex and garden had been planned. They then found out that the builder was planning two new 40-floor towers in that area – Apex and Ceyanne.
“I initially thought that the builder was being generous and giving us an additional swimming pool. I had a beautiful view from my balcony all the way up to the expressway. Way back in 2009, I paid an additional Rs 70,000 for this view. Having 40 floors blocking that view was beyond my imagination,” said Rajesh Rana, former AOA member, who owns a flat in Aster-2, to Hindustan Times.
This Aster-2 is just nine metres from the twin towers. As per the National Building Code, 2005, and Noida authority’s own construction bylaws, there needs to be at least a 16-metre distance between two residential towers. This was one of the residents’ biggest points, which helped win the case.
They approached the builders, Noida authority, and police, but didn’t get any satisfactory responses.
They then knocked on the Allahabad High Court’s door in December 2012 and filed a PIL.
Most of the Emerald Court’s residents are retired government officials. Apart from the four mentioned, others who were active included Vashisht Sharma (60), Rajpal Tandon (85) and Gaurav Devnath (50).
Teotia, former DIG with CRPF, told Mint that they travelled in third class in trains for the Allahabad High Court hearings.
By this time, Supertech had already constructed 13 floors.
Two years later, the high court ruled in favour of the association and ordered the towers to be razed. The court also asked the builder to refund the buyers and slammed the Noida Authority.
However, the woes of the residents weren’t over. Supertech and Noida Authority appealed against the HC order in the Supreme Court.
The legal battle involved over 30 hearings over a period of seven years in the Supreme Court.
The legal expenses amounted to almost Rs 1 crore. MK Jain, who passed away in 2021 due to COVID, led the team and raised money. They knocked on every flat’s door.
“There were about 500 occupied flats by then, and we decided to ask every flat to pay Rs 10,000 each. Some did, but many refused to pay. We went door-to-door trying to convince people. That is when Jain came forward and said that he would pay for additional legal expenses and exhorted others to pay their share. He led the way but passed away due to COVID-19 last year. We are gutted that he is not here today to be part of the victory,” said Bajaj to Hindustan Times.
After this too, they had to raise another round. Every flat owner paid Rs 17,000-Rs 20,000
It was in August 2021 that the Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s 2014 order. The Court said that the Noida authority officials were reeking of corruption.
The Supreme Court directed the entire amount of home buyers be refunded with 12 per cent interest. They also awarded the Emerald Court RWA to be paid Rs 2 crores.
For this group of senior citizens, their 9-year legal battle finally came to an end on Sunday.
“We did not give up hope. Before every hearing, we would study the arguments properly and discuss them with our counsel. We would prepare for 3-4 days before a hearing. Some residents were exasperated with the long battle, but the core team was always confident of a positive result,” said Teotia to the Times of India.
For Bajaj, this was a challenge which they fought head-on.
‘Supertech Twin Towers demolition order in Noida: Senior citizens who waged decade-long legal war against builder’ by Kishor Dwivedi, PTI, Published in Mint on 01 September, 2021
‘10-Years-Long Legal Fight By Senior Citizens Culminated With Fall Of Twin Towers’ Published on 28 August, 2022 Courtesy India.com
‘Citizens’ cane: The battle to take down Supertech’s twin towers’ Published on 28 August, 2022 Courtesy The Economic Times
‘Explained: How four determined men brought down an erring construction giant’ Published on 25 August, 2022 Courtesy News9
‘Noida: For petitioners, day of closure after 10-year legal fight’ by Aditya Dev for The Times of India, Published on 28 August, 2022
‘Supertech demolition: A buyer vs builder battle led by senior citizens’ by Snehil Sinha for Hindustan Times, Published on 28 August, 2022
Edited by Yoshita Rao, Feature Image Courtesy PradeepGaurs / Shutterstock.com