Coming down heavily on a developer who failed to undertake redevelopment of a housing society in Kurla, seven years after demolishing the building, the Bombay High Court observed that it appeared that the developer – SD Bhalerao Constructions – 'never had the clear intention' to 'earnestly undertake the project' and complete the same.
Justice Girish Kulkarni, on July 7, restrained the developer from creating “any obstruction” from the society’s redevelopment through another developer. The court has also directed the developer to remove all its men, materials, and construction, including any signage or fencing/ barricades, and materials from the site of Nehru Nagar Ratnadeep Co.op. Hsg. Soc. Ltd. in Kurla within two weeks.
While hearing a petition by 40 residents of the housing society, the HC observed: “The present proceeding is another case of a co-operative housing society having 40 members who are literally on the street. Their building being demolished in January 2015.”
The court even remarked that the developer “adopted all tactics to delay the work on the project”.
The building was constructed by MHADA in 1967. In 2009, as the building became old and dilapidated, the society decided to redevelop the building.
SD Bhalerao Constructions approached the society in July 2010. Eventually, on December 20, 2010 a development agreement was signed between the society and the developer.
By May 1, 2011, 39 members of the society vacated their tenements and only one member resisted to vacate his tenement. Finally, a settlement was reached with him and the building was demolished in January 2015.
According to the plea, commencement certificate was issued on April 25, 2016. “By June, 2016, a small portion of plinth was put up and since then no construction whatsoever has taken place,” noted the HC in its 25-page order.
All this while, the developer even failed to pay the rent amount to the petitioners. Not just the petitioners’ project, even other projects in the area came to a standstill. Besides, some FIRs were filed against the developer, Sanjay Bhalerao, who was arrested and thereafter released on bail.
Finally, the society held a special general body meeting on 15 January, 2021 and passed a resolution to terminate the development agreement with SD Bhalerao Constructions. The notice was sent to the developer of the same, however, “the respondent (developer) neither responded nor challenged the termination notice and in fact, has accepted the termination”, contended the plea.
However, the developer opposed the petition contending that it is ready to resolve the disputes and is willing to undertake the petitioner’s project.
“In my opinion, the present case appears to be a gross case where the respondent has totally failed to comply with its obligations under the development agreement dated 20 December, 2010,” said the HC. it further added: “It is immensely disheartening that the building which was constructed in the year 1967 and which was vacated on 1 May 2011 by 39 members and subsequently demolished in January 2015, dis-housing 40 members of the society, belonging to low income group, is yet to see even laying of a plinth. The members of the society are being made to suffer for no fault of theirs.”
The court even noted that the developer “was too ambitious and had undertaken several projects in the locality and could not do justice to any of the projects”.
“It also appears that the respondent has no financial capacity to undertake the project and prima-facie it appears that despite several opportunities being made available by the society to the respondent, the respondent could not improve its position under the contract, leading to the ultimate termination of the contract on 03 April, 2021,” said HC.