Supreme Court asks Campa Cola residents to vacate by 31 May

Residents of the Campa Cola society in Mumbai's prime locality, Worli, will face eviction after the Supreme Court on Monday refused to extend the 31 May deadline for them to vacate their flats, which the Mumbai Municipal Corporation claims to be illegal.

The residents had, in November, got some respite with the Supreme Court intervening when the BMC was about to begin demolishing the flats, allowing occupants to live in the high-rise till 31 May (See: SC stays demolition of Campa Cola building till 31 May).

A division bench of the Supreme Court comprising justices Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhyaya and Ranjan Gogoi declined to "modify" its earlier order and said "no further time will be granted."

The top court had, on 27 February 2013, ordered the BMC to demolish the illegally constructed flats and had, on 1 October, refused to re-consider its earlier order. It had also set 11 November as the deadline to vacate 102 flats that were declared illegal.

However, on 13 November, the apex court stayed the demolition till further order after over 100 agitated families clashed with the police while the civic squad started bulldozing its way into the premises.

Stating it was "badly disturbed by the development that is taking place at Campa Cola premises in Mumbai," the SC then stopped the demolition.

The harassed residents have still not lost their will to fight and are working with their legal team to find a solution to save their roofs.

They said they will explore all options available, even as the Supreme Court refused to extend the deadline while hearing an application by residents.

In the application filed on the Special Leave Petition that the apex court dismissed last year, counsel for the residents, Mukul Rohatgi, had urged the court to modify its November 2013 order and submitted that more time be given to residents by adjourning the matter as the residents as well the civic authority are working on a proposal.

The court order came after the attorney general informed that no relocation plan could be worked out between the residents and the municipal authority.

They residents, however, said they would fight till the end to protect their rights.

"We are working at something and now it's up to the government as well," said Rohatgi. "But we will definitely do something before the May 31."

The Campa Cola compound apartments were constructed on land leased to Pure Drinks Ltd in 1955. The BMC had, in 1980, permitted it to develop the land for residential purposes.

Pure Drinks along with builders, Yusuf Patel, BK Gupta and PSB Construction Co erected seven buildings, two of which were high-rise buildings of 17 and 20 stories.

The authorities had intervened during the construction period and issued notices to the builders to stop work on illegal structures. The builders were fined and they resumed work after paying the penalty.

The authorities did not prevent buyers from occupying illegal flats in their apartments or the buildings or from forming co-operative housing societies.