L&T South City swirling in litigation

Litigations have been flying thick and fast at L&T South City apartments, one of the premium residential complexes in south Bengaluru. Six court cases have been filed between the apartment owners, land owner and the developer within the last two years. South City is located at Mico-Arekere Layout, off Bannerghatta Road.

Citizen Matters spoke to state advocate-general Ashok Haranahalli on the issue of ‘gated communities’. Read the interview here

The main contention is regarding two deeds that the original land owner Dinesh Ranka made to the BDA – one in 1996 and another in 2006 – relinquishing 12 of the total 34 acres of the group housing complex land to the BDA. The property is a joint venture between Dinesh Ranka (owner) and Larsen and Toubro Limited (developer). The 12 acres includes a 5.5 acre park with children’s play area and a 60-feet road. When relinquished, the park becomes public and so does the road.

L&T South City. Pic: Suneeth Kumar T V.

South City residents accuse Ranka and L&T of not informing them about the relinquishment deed before sale. "None of the documents – the marketing documents, Agreement To Sell (ATS), legal opinion from L&T’s counsel or the sale deed – mention anything about the relinquishment to BDA. When the first relinquishment deed was made in ’96, the buildings were not occupied. But at least the second deed in 2006 should have been made after consulting us," says R Rajagopalan, Vice President of SUGRUHA (South City Group Housing Apartment Owners’ Association).

Neither the layout map of South City given as part of the marketing material to prospective buyers nor the BDA plan sanction mention the relinquishment.

Events at L&T South City

 •  1996: Ranka makes the first deed to BDA, allowing the park, civic amenities site and internal roads to be relinquished
 •  1999-present: Sale of apartments in various towers as towers come up
 •  2006: Another relinquishment deed made, specifying that 12 acres of land and some area marked for road widening will be handed over to BDA
 •  2008: Apartment owners became aware of the relinquishment deed(s) and file two injunction suits against construction of compound walls
 •  2009: Formation of apartment owners’ association SUGRUHA
 •  2009: Declaration suit filed by SUGRUHA claiming ownership of entire 34 acres
 •  2009: L&T files case against apartment owners for disrupting wall construction
 •  2010: Dinesh Ranka files two cases; one claiming SUGRUHA is invalid, another against residents claiming they attempted to assault him

-Navya P K

A top official at L&T, speaking to Citizen Matters on condition of anonymity says that copies of work orders mentioning relinquishment were given to residents at the time of sale. "We gave all work order and plan sanction copies to individual buyers. Everything has been done as per law," he said.

SUGRUHA denies this. The association says that residents came to know about the proposed relinquishment only when L&T constructed a boundary wall in 2006, separating the apartment complex from the ‘relinquished’ 12 acres. Another wall was also built along the eastern side of the complex relinquishing land for widening of the public road outside the complex.

Some residents filed injunction suits and obtained stays on the construction of both walls in 2008. L&T challenged the order saying that the suits were filed by individual owners and not in a representative capacity, after which the stays were removed. The owners then got together to form the association SUGRUHA the same year and filed the same cases again representing all owners. The association which was formed with 428 owners now has more than 800 members.

Layout plan of L&T South City (click to enlarge). The text ‘Relinquished 12 acres’ has been added by Citizen Matters for the benefit of the readers. This triangular chunk of land, bounded the road and containing a park, is at the heart of the dispute.

The case is still going on in the City Civil Court at Cauvery Bhavan. SUGRUHA has also filed a declaration suit claiming that the entire 34 acres belong to them. 

Legal quagmire

Meanwhile L&T and Ranka have refused to recognize SUGRUHA, arguing that the Deed of Declaration (DoD) that was made while forming the association was inappropriate. Ranka has filed a case against the 428 apartment owners who formed the association, and that case is also pending.

L&T says that the DoD was factually wrong as it declares the entire 34 acres as belonging to the owners and makes no mention of relinquishment. But apartment owners say that those deeds do not have to be mentioned as they are not mentioned in the sale deed. "Why would we willingly insert a clause that will allow our land to be taken away?" Rajagopalan says.

Residents say that the relinquishment will enable Ranka, who owns 1.15 acres of land ‘inside’ the apartment complex, to start commercial activities. This allegation arose when Ranka let a part of his villa for the opening of a ‘Namdhari’ retail outlet. Ranka’s bungalow is adjacent to the road which is proposed to be made open to public.

The disputed wall that separates apartments from the 12-acre land that is to be relinquished to BDA, in L&T South City. Pic: Navya P K.

Citizen Matters could not reach Dinesh Ranka as he was travelling. His office said he will get back. 

In 2009, L&T filed cases and obtained restraining orders on 12 owners, whom they accused of disrupting construction of walls.

L&T says that the apartment owners are filing cases against the company as it is a soft target. "Many residents have not paid their maintenance dues. These people are the ones that create problems," claims KV Venkatesh, Executive Vice-President at L&T. Apartment owners say that the maintenance fee has been paid by all, but the two parties have not reached a consensus on the amount.

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About Navya P K 241 Articles
Navya P K is a former senior staff journalist at Citizen Matters, and a freelance journalist based in Kerala.

3 Comments

  1. Hello can some can help us !!!

    Project at Gopalan Residency at Vijaynagar has 3 blocks 288 flats, now around 35 houses are empty and yet to be sold.
    OC has been issued and Khata has bee issued by BBMP and around 200 residents stay in the apartment.
    Issues are,1.51 lakhs sq ft is constructed and 3 blocks are made A,B C. As per sanction plan of 1.81 lakhs of sq. ft area are belongs to this project. Builder has executed absolute sale deed for anly 1.66 lakhs Sq ft. and registered. However in between agreement time common area was mentioned as 1.81 lakhs sq ft only.

    We are forming an association and looking forward for Deed of declaration.

    How do we solve this issue, Builder has put a wall to 1.66 lakhs sq ft boundary and says adjacent land will be sold as additional car parking.

  2. By way of clarifying own thoughts:

    wrt the ‘invitation’ extended, for sake of clarity, ‘Edit’ has been used in its most comprehensive conceptual sense. And it is not simply to make ‘editorial changes’ or ‘moderation’ as commonly understood ; but to try and inspire the rest in the apartments’ community to accord insightful thoughts and consider incisively how best to redeem selves from the state of ‘trishanku’ (if not an absolute ‘sin’ ), into which the entire community, not only in Karnataka but across the whole nation, has been pushed, The point in mind is that now a stage has been reached necessitating everyone concerned , including the advising / representing law experts, to sit up and firstly take a conscious note / realize in all seriousness the magnitude and complicity of the issues involved /entangled in or forced into. Also decide and suitably design the lines /further course of action , if not so far, at least from HERE AND NOW, onward. That means also such a suitable change of the strategy as to prudently follow, – instead of following the one of a routine/run -of- the- mill kind as hither to,
    For doing so, in one’s altruistic perspective, some of the recently decided SC cases , -albeit prima facie in different contexts, with varying factual matrix, might be of the utmost help/assistance in stimulating fresh clues / ideas for making a move forward – instead of getting stuck / stay put at the cross roads, not knowing the direction or turn rightly to take, -by wrongly yielding to the normal temptation /tendency to follow ‘beaten track’ thereby to “leave the law to take its own course”. Among those cases, focused attention requires to be given to the landmark judgment of the apex court against the till then ongoing notorious practice of “GPA Sales”.
    (May be contd,)

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