Noida flat buyers must get refund with interest: SC

Less than a week after it quashed the acquisition of over 156 hectares of farm land by the Greater Noida Authority, the Supreme Court today said buyers who had invested in private housing projects in the area would be entitled to complete refund of money, with interest "at an appropriate rate", from the builders.

Today's order, aimed at ending the uncertainty over the fate of investments into the now-stalled housing projects, would bring relief to over 6,000 people who had booked flats in the area.

On July 6, the Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly had quashed the acquisition of land in Shahberi village by the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority under the urgency clause of the Land Acquisition Act, and ordered the same to be returned to the farmers.

Holding that it "will be a great injustice to the people belonging to the latter category (farmers) if the acquisition... is sustained only with a view to save the investment made by those who are aspiring to acquire some property from the builders," the Bench today said, "however, it is made clear that those who have paid money to the builders for booking flats, etc, shall be entitled to get back the amount along with interest at an appropriate rate and if the builders refuse to repay the amount, then they shall be free to avail appropriate legal remedies."

It observed that while it was "not unmindful of the plight of large numbers of persons who made investment by booking flats, etc", the Bench said that at the same time it was impossible to ignore that the land owners and transferees had been deprived of their property.

It said that acquisition of land was a serious matter and before initiating the proceeding under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and other similar legislations, the concerned government must seriously ponder over the consequences of depriving the tenure holder of his property.

"It must be remembered that the land is just like a mother of the people living in the rural areas of the country. It is the only source of sustenance and livelihood for the land owner and his family. If the land is acquired, not only the present but the future generations of the land owner are deprived of their livelihood and the only source of security," the Bench said.

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