KOCHI: “We have not been heard and it’s denial of natural justice.” This was the plea that echoed strongly as residents of the controversial apartments at Maradu staged a protest when Chief Secretary Tom Jose and District Collector S Suhas visited the spot for an inspection of the site.
Things have been tense for the residents since Sunday when the state government issued a letter to the district administration directing them to evict people from the five buildings for implementing the Supreme Court verdict that ordered demolition of the apartments for violating CRZ norms.
The 450-odd families of Holy Faith H2O, Golden Kayaloram, Alfa Serene and Jains Coral Cove are totally clueless of their future. “It is a housing apartment to be demolished, not a cattle shed. None in power is ready to answer our questions. We are also human beings and laws should prevail to protect the citizens, not the other way around. If the officials are coming to demolish our homes, they will have to do it passing over our bodies,” said a furious Joyson E Pallan, president, Residents Association of Holy Faith H2O apartments.
Echoing a similar sentiment, Selena, another resident, said: “We are innocent in the matter. Starting with the SC-appointed three-member committee till the latest judgement, none has heard our pleas or our concerns.”
“We will move a curative petition in the Supreme Court. We are waiting for the final order of the apex court to decide whether to approach the President of India or Prime Minister in the matter,” said Joyson.
The residents are furious that even the Supreme Court has not lent an ear to hear their concern. “Neither the court nor the officials heard our concern in the matter. If the government agrees that violation has taken place, then why did they allow the builder to construct the complex? Why did the municipality give building numbers to the apartments? The court didn’t bother to hear us before ordering demolition,” said 63-year-old Issac K, a resident who is undergoing treatment after kidney transplantation.
“We are completely lost as there is no other option but to knock again on the doors of the Supreme Court. We hope to get a positive response from the apex court while hearing the curative petition,” said Jose, another resident.
Govt in a fix
While the government has reiterated that it would implement the Supreme Court order, it has no idea how to pacify the agitating residents who are pointing fingers at politicians and the officials who gave permission to construct buildings.
Out on the streets
The basic principles of natural justice demand that the affected party be given an opportunity of being heard by the Supreme Court before passing any orders against them, said Peeyus A Kottam, Advocate, Kerala High Court. Around 450 families reside in the four apartment buildings which have been ordered by the Supreme Court to be demolished. The most unfortunate thing is that the order has been passed without hearing these owners. Are they not legally entitled to be heard before being thrown out onto the street? They purchased these flats nearly 10 years ago, after paying property tax to municipality. They purchased these apartments with hard-earned money and huge loans to realise their dream of having a home, said Peeyus.