Kochi demolition: Supreme Court says fraud played on court
Senior counsels engaged by the petitioners have played a fraud on the Supreme Court, the apex court said on Friday while hearing a matter related to the razing of 400 flats in five posh coastal apartment complexes in the Maradu area in Kochi
Criticizing the petitioners and their senior counsels, a bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha said the petitioners had obtained a stay order on the demolition from another bench during the vacations of the apex court.
On June 10, in relief for the homeowners, the Supreme Court stayed for six weeks the demolition of the 400 flats.
"That Bench should not have entertained the matter at all," said a furious justice Mishra, targeting the senior advocates who appeared on the matter.
"Should we draw contempt against you? I had specifically turned down the stay on the demolition, and then you went to the other bench... Three to four senior counsels are involved in this fraud. Is money everything for you?" said Justice Mishra asked.
A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi had passed the order while considering a writ petition filed by a group of residents, who claimed that their arguments were not heard by the top court while pronouncing the demolition order on May 8 in view of the findings of the inquiry committee.
The court dismissed the matter and warned the petitioners not to agitate further. In May, Supreme Court, in the aftermath of the devastating Kerala floods, ordered the demolition of all illegal structures built on the notified Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) at the Maradu municipality in Kerala's Ernakulam district.
In June, the apex court had assured that the review pleas will be heard in the first week of July, and then the vacation bench ordered a status quo on all demolitions till then. The writ petitioners - the home-owners - said the report had been submitted without giving them an opportunity and this was not communicated to the court before it reached the decision of demolishing the flats.
The counsel for the petitioners contended that the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had conveyed its approval of the Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMPs) regarding 10 coastal districts of Kerala.
However, the approval was pending before the court. The permission to construct the buildings was granted in 2006 when Maradu was a panchayat. The builders of two apartments filed review petitions challenging the judgment passed in May and argued that the court was misled by the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority.
The review petitions also said that the court-appointed three-member committee did not give them a proper hearing. The apex court, directing the demolition, said the state cannot approve illegal constructions in the light of the danger of floods and heavy rains.
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