Campa Cola society: Supreme Court dismisses residents' plea

The Supreme Court has dismissed the plea filed by residents of illegal flats in Mumbai's Campa Cola Housing Society against an earlier order asking them to vacate their premises by 31 May.

A bench comprising justices Jagdish Singh Khehar and C Nagappan today agreed to hear the matter on Tuesday after senior counsel Vikas Singh told the apex court that it was a human problem involving 140 families being rendered homeless.

"We are of the view that the present petition is misconceived and hence, dismissed," a bench said. The bench also rejected the submission that at least the illegal flats be not demolished till the time the apex court decides the curative petition of residents association in the case.

"It is a big humanitarian problem. 140 families have been asked to vacate the premises with no other place to go," senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, appearing for the residents association, said, adding that he was not advancing any arguments on legal grounds as it is nearly a mercy plea. "

''Every case has a humanitarian issue. Otherwise there was no need for having courts," the bench said.

In their plea the residents association had agreed to vacate the illegal flats but wanted the apex court to get an assurance from the state and local authorities that the flats would not be demolished till the curative petition is dismissed.

"Allow the present writ petition filed by the petitioner association before this court and issue writ of Mandamus or Certiorari or any other appropriate writ or directions, directing the respondents not to demolish the building or take any other coercive steps till the outcome of the present writ petition," the petitioners said in their plea.

The association also said it had come across certain facts, which never came out earlier, under the Right to Information Act and they (facts) warrant fresh hearing of the case.

The plea had said the state and the civic body, way back in 1985 and 1986, had decided to regularise the illegal construction.

The residential complex in the upmarket South Mumbai was built in the 1980s. The builders had permission to build only five floors, but constructed 35 floors without the requisite permission, rendering 96 flats illegal.

Since 2008, the corporation has been engaged in a long-drawn legal battle over the illegality of 35 floors spread across seven buildings in the Campa Cola compound.

The municipality served demolition notices in 2005 which the residents challenged in court.

The matter reached the Supreme Court, which ordered that the illegal flats be vacated by 11 November. The Supreme Court stayed the demolition the day after and gave them time till 31 May to find solutions.

''There is absolutely no way that these flats can be regularised. They have to be demolished,'' said an official from the municipal body.

The local police station has also served notices asking the residents to avoid any resistance or face action.

Residents are now pinning hope on the new NDA government at the centre to save them from certain eviction.