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Supreme Court upholds Kerala HC ruling against demolition of DLF building

Supreme Court upholds Kerala HC ruling against demolition of DLF building

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court today upheld the judgment of the Kerala High Court, which had ruled against demolition of an apartment complex built by DLF in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone Rules.

The judgment was delivered by a Bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and Sanjay Kishan Kaul in a batch of appeals filed against the 2016 judgement of a Division Bench of the High Court.

DLF has to pay Rs. 1 crore in fine as per Kerala High Court judgment. However, the Supreme Court directed that the fine has to be paid to Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority and not District Collector as was mandated by the High Court.

Senior Advocates Shyam Divan and Dhruv Mehta along with advocates Vipin Nair, PB Suresh, Prithu Garg and Abhay Pratap Singh appeared for the appellants.

Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal, Pinaki Mishra, Krishnan Venugopal along with Manu Nair and Ishan Gaur from Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas appeared for DLF. Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar appeared for Flat Owners Association.

By way of background, a Single judge of the High Court had ruled against DLF and had directed the Kochi Corporation to stop all further construction by DLF. It had also ordered demolition of portions of the building constructed in violation of CRZ norms.

DLF had appealed against the judgment to Division Bench of the High Court, which had modified the order of Single judge. The Division Bench had granted permission to the company to pay a fine of 1 crore, and avoid demolition of the building.

The State of Kerala, Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority and the petitioner in High Court AV Antony had appealed against this decision to Supreme Court.

The appellants had argued in Supreme Court that in the context of ‘regularization’ of unauthorized constructions, particularly those violating the laws and norms set up for protecting the environment around the coastal areas like the Coastal Regulation Zone [CRZ] Notifications, the Supreme Court has taken an unequivocal and clear stand against erring real estate promoters and builders, who endanger the fragile coastal ecosystems in our country.

They had contended that the Supreme Court while dealing with such infractions had ordered demolition of offending constructions, whatever be the stage of construction.  Hence, payment of monetary fine cannot be allowed to facilitate the builder to escape liability.

Read the judgment below.