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A Review petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against the order directing demolition of illegal apartment buildings in the notified Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) of the Maradu municipality in Kerala’s Ernakulam District.
The petition seeking review of the May 8 order passed by the Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha has been moved by Holy Faith Builders and Developers, the builder of one of the apartment buildings in question. The petition has been drawn by advocates Santhosh Mathew and A Karthik.
The primary contention of the petitioner is that the order of Supreme Court is based on the incorrect understanding that the constructions are made in areas notified as CRZ III and are in violation of CRZ norms. These structures are, in fact, erected in areas notified as CRZ II and the mistake in the classification of the Maradu district as CRZ III was rectified in a notification of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) issued in February 2019. Therefore, the buildings were constructed in compliance with the CRZ norms, the review petition states.
Further, it is also argued that the three-member committee that was entrusted with the responsibility of submitting a report after taking into consideration the interests of all stakeholders did not give any hearing to apartment owners and they were not served any notice in this regard. The contentions put forth by the review petitioners were recorded by the committee, however, none of the aspects pointed out by the petitioners were considered.
Various other infirmities in the functioning of the committee for the preparation of its report have been pointed out by the petitioner such as non-participation of a member during hearings, affected parties not being made aware of the existence of a technical team, among other things. The petition states,
“A copy of the report was not served on the Petitioner nor his Counsel in Supreme Court. Therefore, the Petitioner was not provided an opportunity to peruse the report nor its contents. The Petitioner was denied of an opportunity to file a response to the report nor to challenge the same, in view of the apparent illegality in the conclusions and procedure adopted.”
The genesis of the litigation lies in the question surrounding the legality of the show cause notice issued by the Maradu Panchayat on a direction issued by the State Government, the petition points out. The State Coastal Zone Management Authority had issued show cause notices to various builders who were carrying out construction activities in areas that were allegedly critically vulnerable coastal areas notified as CRZ-III.
The notices were issued asking why the permissions issued to the builders, in violation of relevant statutory provisions, ought not to be cancelled. Highlighting this point, the review petition states that the Supreme Court erred in passing a demolition order which was beyond the scope of the actual dispute.
“it is respectfully submitted that this Hon’ble Court went beyond the scope of the litigation and issued directions for demolition the buildings. This Hon’ble Court, if it was found that the High Court exceeded its jurisdiction in interfering with the show cause notice, ought to have directed the parties to submit their reply to the show cause notice and direct completion of the proceedings by the concerned Authority which issued the show cause notice in accordance with law. Therefore, there has been violation of principles of natural justice and due process has not been followed before ordering demolition of the building.”
The Supreme Court in its order of May 8 had directed for all the buildings to be removed from the Maradu area that was made in violation of the CRZ Regulations. The demolition was directed to be completed within a period of one month from the date of the judgment.