The Supreme Court on Friday extended till further orders the mandate of one-member committee of retired Kerala High Court judge Justice K Balakrishnan Iyer constituted to determine the compensation paid to flat owners of Maradu municipality of Kochi district, whose houses were demolished for being in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms in the state.
The top court also appointed senior advocate Gaurav Agrawal, as amicus curiae as sought by the one member committee, to assist the court in the matter.
A bench of Justices R F Nariman, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari granted four weeks' time to all the parties to file written submissions before the court and asked Agrawal to sit with the committee and file its written submissions.
Four weeks' time is granted within which all parties are to file written submissions before this Court. Meanwhile, the Committee's mandate is extended by this Court till further orders from this Court, the bench said.
It added, The Committee also requests this Court to appoint amicus curiae. We appoint Mr. Gaurav Agrawal, learned Advocate, as amicus to represent the Committee. Registry is directed to supply all papers to him .
The top court posted the matter for further hearing on December 9.
During the hearing, the bench asked the counsels appearing for four builders M/s. Jain Housing & Construction Ltd, M/s. Alfa Ventures(P) Ltd., M/s. Holy Faith Builders & Developers Pvt. Ltd and M/s K.P. Varkey and Builders, who had built the buildings in violations of the norms, about the status of payment made towards the compensation.
The bench said that since some proposals given to the committee were rejected, the builders concerned must give another proposal about the plan to make the payment or law will take its own course.
It said that if the proposals are not given, then the assets attached will be sold off and the court will hear the matter in December including the contempt petition.
Justice (retd) K Balakrishnan Iyer committee had also filed its report in a sealed cover before the court.
On September 28, the top court had said that it want to see whether its order on demolition of structures constructed in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms in Kerala are followed in letter and spirit .
The top court had sought response from Chief Secretary of Kerala in four weeks on a contempt petition filed by former army man and a film director A K Raveendran alleging gross non-compliance of apex court's order of September 23 last year in which it had directed Kerala government to ascertain the violation of CRZ norms in the entire state.
On September 27, last year, the top court had directed the Kerala Government to pay, out of its own funds, a sum of Rs. 25 lakh to each of the flat owners who were evicted and made clear that the amount shall be recoverable from the Builder/Promotor/the persons/officials responsible for raising the construction.
On the same day, it had constituted a Committee headed by Justice (retd) K Balakrishnan Nair to look after the payment of the amount to each of the flat owners, as well as to work out the actual amount paid.
It had issued notices to M/s Alfa Ventures (P) Ltd., M/s Holy Faith Builders & Developers (P) Ltd., M/s Jain Housing & Construction Ltd., and K.P.Varkey & Builders and said that the Builder/Promotor/persons/officials responsible for raising the construction may also be associated with the exercise to be done and the actual amount paid by flat owners may also be ascertained.
The top court had ordered that this will be without prejudice to other proceedings which may be taken by the flat owners against the Builder/ Promotor/ persons/officials responsible for raising the construction for realisation of damages/compensation.
On September 23, last year the top court had observed that illegal construction in coastal areas of Kerala is a "colossal loss" to the environment and expressed shock over a spate of unauthorised structures coming up at Kochi's Maradu.
Coming down heavily on the Kerala government for not complying with its orders to demolish four apartment complexes built in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), the top court had asked the chief secretary to conduct a survey to gauge the extent of devastation caused to nature.
On May 8, 2019 the apex court had directed that such buildings be removed within a month's times, which were constructed in a notified CRZ, which was part of the tidally-influenced water body in Kerala.
The court had passed the order after taking note of a report of a three-member committee, which said when the buildings were built, the area was already notified as a CRZ and construction was prohibited.