New Delhi: Taking cognizance of media reports, the Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed demolition of unauthorised flats in Mumbai's Campa Cola society, giving relief to over 100 agitated families, who clashed with the police while the civic squad was bulldozing its way into the premises.
"Till further orders, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation will not carry out demolition in furtherance of the notice issued by the corporation," a bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi said while observing that "We were badly disturbed by the development that is taking place at Campa Cola premises in Mumbai."
In a ray of hope for the occupants of the unauthorised flats, the bench, also comprising Justice V. Gopala Gowda, said that it will also consider the proposal to construct new buildings in the same premises where people, who are to vacate flats, could be accomodated.
The bench, which said that ordinance cannot be issued to overrule its verdict, however took note of the submission of Attorney General G E Vahanvati that a permanent solution has to be found and merely staying the demolition till May 31, 2014 as ordered earlier in the morning, would not yield the desired relief for the residents occupying the illegal flats.
Accepting his suggestion, the bench said the Attorney General will prepare the specific proposal and submit it to the court on Tuesday, November 19, when the matter will be taken up.
Earlier, minutes after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) squad bulldozed its way inside the compound by breaking open the gate to gain access to take action against illegal flats, the bench at around 10:30 am took suo motu cognizance of media reports and stayed the demolition process till May 31, 2014 saying it will pass a detailed order at 2 PM.
Senior advocates Fali S Nariman, Pallav Sisodia (who had appeared for the corporation in the case) and Mukul Rohatgi (who had appeared for the residents), were requested to assist the bench.
After hearing them and the Attorney General, the bench in its order noted that "dismissing the last plea on October 1, the court took cognizance of the statement of Rohatgi that 75 per cent members have vacated the illegally constructed portion and the court had extended time (for demolition) as specified in the order till November 11, 2013".
However, the bench said on reading the reports in today's morning newspapers it appeared that majority of the members so far have not vacated the unauthorised constructed flats as some could not do this because they were unable to find out alternate accomodation.
During the hearing when the bench had re-assembled after the lunch break, Vahanvati said the "matter is disturbing" because of the peculiar facts of the case and without affecting the order of the apex court and the majesty of the law, something has to be done.
He said the Advocate General of Maharashtra was of the view that Ordinance cannot be issued since the order has been passed by the apex court. Vahanvati said unauthorised construction has to go but the flat owners should be given opportunity to build up building available in the campus without affecting the apex court order.
Vahanvati said extension of time till May 31 will not solve the problem and since there is space in the compound, the residents should be allowed to get approval of the building plan as originally it was planned to have nine towers and the builders came out with seven by accomodating all buyers in them.
Hearing the Attorney General, the bench said "you give us the proposal in writing and then we will fix the time and give sufficient time for clearance of the project." Justice Singhvi, who had on October 1 refused to re-consider his earlier order on demolition of flats built beyond the sanctioned floors, had set November 11 deadline to vacate 102 flats declared as illegal.
Seven high-rise buildings of Campa Cola Housing society were constructed between 1981 and 1989. The builders had permission for only six floors. One of the compound buildings, Midtown, has 20 floors and another building, Orchid, has got 17 floors.
In the morning, the municipal staff with police help barged into the compound in South Mumbai by breaking open the main gate to take action against illegal flats in the society. The residents were involved in scuffles with police who forcibly moved them away from the gate to facilitate access for the civic squad.
The residents blocked the entrance and refused to allow civic officials to enter the premises as the BMC team was expected to cut power and water supply in remaining illegal flats today....