5 Dec 2008, 0345 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: In a setback for Hiranandani developers, the HC on Thursday in an interim order restrained the builder from selling or creating third party rights in amalgamated flats in its Powai township. Hearing PILs filed by local residents alleging violations by Hiranandani developers, a division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Sharad Bobde said that all such work would be subject to the outcome of the court verdict on the issue.
"Despite the seriousness of the matter, the state government has not taken any action and the blame game (between different government agencies) is on,'' said the judges. Hiranandani Developers are in charge of the Powai Area Development Scheme spread over 230 acres. A tripartite agreement was signed between the state government, MMRDA and the parties for the development of Powai and Tirandaz villages in 1986.
The main issue in the PIL concerns a clause in the agreement which states that not more than 50% of the flats are to be 40 sq m (430 sq ft) in area, while the area of the remaining flats has to be 80 sq m (860 sq ft). Subsequently, permission was given to amalgamate two flats, however such flats could not be more than 10% to 15% of the total development.
Petitioners K Satve and Rajendra Thacker said this clause was blatantly violated with flats being amalgamated to form apartments of 1,870 sq ft to 4,925 sq ft. Further, while the mandate was to construct flats at affordable rates, the petitioners pointed to advertisements where a 5BHK flat was being sold for Rs 9.30 crore in Hiranandani Garden.
Senior advocate Aspi Chinoy, counsel for Hiranandani, cited a previous HC judgment to point out flats under the Powai Area Development Scheme were not intended only for the "weaker sections of the society''. Refuting that the developers had violated any rules, Chinoy informed the court that flats were sold as units of 40 sq m and 80 sq m and later amalgamated to form larger apartments.
The government told the court that it had initiated action. Assistant government pleader Pradeep Patil said that while the MMRDA had been asked to further investigate the violations, in March 2008 the builders had been asked to shell out Rs 3 crore as penalty and continue with the development work in accordance with rules. The court scheduled the case for further hearing on Dec 18, restrained the builder from selling amalgamated flats to an individual buyer or a group of buyers. "No two flats will be sold to the same person,'' said the court. They have, however, been permitted to sell individual flats which are of 40 sq m and 80 sq m in area