L&T South City swirling in litigation

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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
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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 251 Articles
Navya P K is a journalist at Citizen Matters, and a freelance journalist based in Kerala.

25 Comments

  1. The ongoing ‘litigation’ one strongly feels, requires to be looked at as having far reaching consequences, having the potentials to impact / impair not just the particular gated community involved, but the whole of the larger community having indirect vested interests.
    To dilate:
    Reactions (IMPROMPTU)
    For sake of ‘public interest’, Is it not high time, that a Clear and Loud enough ‘Clarion Call’ is given as not missed to be heard by anyone (of all), even if happens to be short of hearing or beyond the normal range of its reach! That is to impress that in the current scenario, what is required / a MUST Is Group /Class Action, ONLY. Not ANYMORE Individual / individualistic ‘Action’, ANY LONGER; for, that might prove suicidal / eventual disaster to ONE AND ALL; that is, *the whole community of owners/occupiers of, -co-purchased, -occupied and or desired-to-be co-owned- property (Flats/Apartments) ! For an appreciation , in proper light, a plethora of posts of varying types in public domain, besides the related Blogs herein, are expected to be, mindfully looked into by everyone concerned, including advising professionals and infield practice, for useful clues. The suggestion is to stress that, unless a concerted effort is made and unanimously decided to cry a halt to pursuing the problems as per the whims and fancies of each aggrieved individual, -even if following own lawyer’s advice, it could lead to a further messing up, and dragging all the rest unwittingly or otherwise, into an abysmal quagmire.

    The host of valuable information attempted to be disseminated , including feedbacks provided through websites such as this, et al are , as expected, to be taken a serious note of, and considered , to the end of accomplishing the maximum desirable outcome , been specially focussed on the facet of of ‘common good’. Of the several of them, in the Blogs @swamilook on inter alia the 2 Topics- Final Conveyance and “Deemed Conveyance”, also on “continuing cause of action”, are essentially of relevance; and require to be taken into account for the purpose of formulating or structuring say, the pleas, entreaties, so on , whether it be for any endeavour, such as a dialogue with the ‘promoters’ or for any further purpose.
    In one’s independent perspective, It is not but a sad commentary, some of the posers / comments, repeated but left unanswered (- for inferable reason), would not happen to have been raised / posted had the whole lot of information, etc. made available been cared to be sincerely and mindfully gone through, not merely by the aggrieved victims of the ongoing irregularities, by their advising professionals as well. Mere awareness, without a knee-jerk/truthful awakening, cannot be expected to lead to the destination / score the set goal.
    (Invitation to one and all, not barring law experts, to mind and appropriately ‘Edit’, for serving the purpose behind)

  2. An update>

    To recap, in the case of L & T South city, a very vital issue that has come to be addressed, and is being fought, is, as understood by one, of a rudimentary nature. In that, it has something to do with the basic requirement of the law mandating the filing of ‘declaration’ (Form A). That, as made clear by the law, is a prerequisite for forming an owners’ association, – a legal entity, to be duly constituted in accordance with the prescribed procedure. Further, it is indisputable that is a requirement necessarily to be complied with by the promoter / vendor; not by the purchasers.

    Most of all, what highly regrettable and lamentable is the reality that such is the correct position in law has remained to be fully understood thus far.

    To anyone who has been, or is, or likely to be, a sufferer/victim, in the past or present or future, the obnoxious irregularities still prevailing in the field of implementation or enforcement of the special law on apartments, in force in Karnataka, must be a matter of grave concern, Particularly, many of the stories coming to light, on the unholy developments in the field of administration of the law as well and the resultant plight of the hapless stakeholders make for a bizarre reading.

    The articles published, so also the messages posted (particularly, the recent ones,on the popular website @http://praja.in/en/blog/m…
    covering the related aspects are worthwhile reading and being made a conscious note of.

  3. One has no clue where the matter of legal dispute(s)presently stands.

    Meanwhile, a write-up from the company, published in today Issue of BL, has been a fresh cause for a renewed provocation.

    Ref. ‘We saw the slowdown coming two years before’-
    Q
    “…a review meeting with the senior management of the construction group at its headquarters in a sprawling campus on the outskirts of Chennai.”
    UQ

    Read more under ‘Excerpts’.

    Impromptu (Reaction):

    On the face of it, what seem to have been summed up are nothing but the lamentations of a single player, however large-sized or relative importance it may be regarded to have, in the context of the industrial sector as a whole and its role in the national economy.
    Be that as could only be expected, one is perforce painfully obliged to remind self of a related story, contributing to a very sad commentary; rather a bad reflection of the individual player’s image, though in different waters (i.e. the sector popularly known as – REALTY) – ref. the ongoing but never ending legal battle @ Bangalore, the realty project named, Southcity.
    The imponderable, the most disturbing one at that, is this: Whither ‘accountability’, transparency’, etc. , in short, ‘good governance’ ? As a corollary, Is not what is expected , reasonably and justifiably, by one and all , the right minded ones amongst them , is , first and foremost, self-discipline, uprightness, integrity,so on OR by any other name one may wish to call it ?

  4. I am one of first few to buy an apartment at South City. I feel L&T or any such large corporates would want to spoil their brand equity through such dubious transaction. They have more to lose than gain. The fact is like us even L&T has clearly fallen prey to Builder Dinesh Ranka by having a joint venture with him. L&T fearing protests from residents etc. and inability to sell the apartments would have prefered to remain silent. But, what is shocking is L&T senior management after all this had chosen to act against the residents instead of supporting us to get the issues resolved. Most Indian corporates have no values. Vision, Mission, Values and commitment customer is only on Paper and in receptions of posh offices.

  5. AS CAN BE READILY SEEN FROM THE PREVIOUS COMMENTS, THESE ARE FULLY RIDDEN WITH SPONTANEOUS BURSTS OF EMOTIONS. THE JUSTIFICATION BEHIND IS NOT FAR TO SEEK.
    NONETHELESS,FROM A PRAGMATIC POINT OF VIEW,’EMOTION’ BY ITSELF MAY NOT SERVE ANY USEFUL PURPOSE. FOR SOME CLUES ON WHAT THEN IS REALLY AND IDEALLY REQUIRED, ESPECIALLY ON THE PART OF THE THE ‘VICTIMS OF THE PIECE’, ONE MAY LOOK UP AND CAREFULLY READ THROUGH SOME OF THE MATERIAL REFERRED TO IN THE BLOG-
    http://vswaminathan-vswaminathan-swamilook.blogspot.com/2011/10/icai-news.html (ALSO THER RELATED BLOGS)

    THE SUGGESTION OF WHAT ANYONE NEEDS TO DO FOR KNOWING MORE SO AS TO BE USEFUL,FOR BEING TRANSLATED INTO ACTION/REACTION, NO DOUBT DEPENDS ON THE TIME AND ‘MINDSET’ OF THE PERSON CONCERNED. HOWEVER, WHAT REQUIRES TO BE SPECIALLY NOTED/APPRECIATED IS THE TRUTH BEHIND ONE’S FIRM BELIEF THAT- IN THE NATURE OF THINGS, RATHER HAVING REGARD TO THE COMPLICITY OF THE ATTENDANT PROBLEMS/ISSUES,THERE IS SEEN TO BE NO OTHER WAY/SHORTCUT.

    FOR, AFTER ALL, THOUGH ‘BREVITY’ IS COMMONLY BELIEVED TO BE ‘THE
    SOUL OF WIT’, THERE IS NO GAINSAYING THAT – BREVITY AT THE THE COST OF CLARITY,- WHICH CANNOT BE ACCOMPLISHED EXCEPT THROUGH ELABORATION- MIGHT EVENTUALLY PROVE A USELESS ‘TINSEL’.

  6. All builders are same. They cheat the buyers at the first possible opportunity. Back in 2004, I had purchased a flat in Shriram Sristi, Anand Nagar, developed by Shriram Properties. They had permission for six floors only but sold & built 8 floors in 3 blocks.My flat was on 8th floor. After collecting 80% payment, at the time of hand over, they disclosed the problem & asked us to take back money!!!. 24 buyers, like me, were cheated. I approached Consumer courts & civil courts and the attitude of the judges were horrible. Not sure about the judges motivations but the judgement always favored the builder. Hope the builders follow some ethical business practices in future.

  7. Land issue is not resolved. There is not conclusion or final decision on moving the road to the end.
    *This comment was edited to conform to Citizen Matters comment policy

  8. Latest Update: The south city park and land issue has been resolved. The road will be re-routed to the periphery of the park from its present location. The park would move toward apartments. BDA has agreed that the park will remain in control of resident association and will be maintained by them. BDA has also issued direction to L&T to this effect and L&T has agreed to bear the financial burden for this civic work.

  9. L&T is now selling another such project called Eden Park in Chennai, again in collaboration with Dinesh ranka. The site plan will give a deja vu feeling to all South City Bangalore residents.

  10. I am afraid that legally one cannot win this as the “fine print” in the Town Planning Act states that on sanctioning, the roads and public/civic amenity sites automatically comes under the control of the local authority.

    This has been generally ignored and hence the fact that all layouts, complexes have security, gates, etc.

    We have had our gates removed ( Shubh Enclave, off Sarjapur Road ) by vested interests in collusion with the local BBMP officials to access properties in and around for commercial benefits.

    The recourse would be to amend the act, since there are too many gray areas in this.

  11. This is a fit case for the affected persons to move the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission for proper remedy and suitable directions.

  12. It is a clear case of cheating. You promised to deliver certain goods at a consideration but delivered less than what was promised. There are two options – i) either deliver what was promised (if still feasible) or ii) compensate for the under delivery i.e. refund 1/3rd of the money (with interest @15% per annum) paid by the flat owners at the time of purchasing.

  13. In case of South City, project developers (L&T & Ranka) have for sure mislead the buyers. 12 acres is a lot of land for any layout residents to give away and that too when that is the sole green zone for them. I can’t think of a project with 2000+ flats and not a proper playing place for kids within the premises. It is travesty of justice and consumer rights in my country that even reputed companies like L&T do not mind engaging in such things. I guess they know fully well that when it takes years to get even a mass murderer to justice, they can easily get scott free.

  14. After having lived in South Bangalore, in independent houses, for 29 years, it is essentially L&T’s unimpeachable corporate image that made us plunge for an apartment in South City in late 2000. Added to that, pointing to L&T’s great reputation, the ‘Agreement to Sell’ implored us to lay implicit faith in the company and sign without raising any questions. There was not a shred of evidence, either in any of the numerious marketing colatorals, papers, documents and offficial drawings revealed to us or on the ground to to even remotely hint that our title was in any way impaired. Now, if they claim that part of our property, of which we have been given an undivided share as a percentage of 34 acres, has been given away to the government, then wouldn’t we be justified in feeling that our faith has been betrayed? All the more so, if someone has usurped one of the main attrations of the habitat, our only lung space that lies in the verdant 5 acre park and our spine of a majestic internal sixty feet road! In this regard, we are now in court seeking justice.

  15. I purchased the flat in South City on the assumption and firm belief that L & T being a reputed builder will honour its committments and I will have a peaceful and greenary surroundings. All my belief has been torn apart by the innumerable difficulties and problems posed by the L & T in maintaining the building and changing its stand every now and then.

    I am regular in paying the maintenance charges and I have not received any letter from L & T about the litigation land . I fully support the efforts of the Association and I sincerely thank the persons who have taken the lead in taking the residents matter with L & T and Ranka.

    S.Ravi

  16. Some crucial facts of the case areas follows:

    1. The legal document of ownership is the Sale Deed. It clearly mentions 34 acres.
    2. The master plan attached to the sale deed shows the so called ‘relinquished Park and Road’ as part of the South City complex.
    3. The area in which the latest dispute – setting up of Namdhari outlet is located is marked as Villas.
    4. There is a separate space in the master plan for ‘Commercial Complex’.
    5. Every South City Owner has an ‘undivided share’ in the 34 acres bequeathed legally by the Sale Deed.
    which cannot be legally relinquished without the written consent of all the owners.

    It is high time that the ‘Land Owner’ and ‘Developer’ realize that they are dealing with educated and law abiding citizens whose sources of Income are all accounted for and tax paid. Hence they have nothing to brush under the carpet. The manner in which a large corporate like L&T known for its ‘professionalism’ and ‘integrity’ has handled this issue is ‘shocking’ to say the least.

  17. It seems the developer has added an additional para in the latest sale deeds mentioning some relinquishments thus exposing their guilt at having suppressed information to earlier purchasers with purely commercial interests. The main gate security issue when L&T threw open the 60 feet internal road to “public” allegedly on instructions from BDA is still fresh in the minds of the residents. Issues after issues have been sprouting up putting the residents under tremendous stress….And one thought a corporate like L&T could be trusted blindly.

  18. Even the latest sale deeds mention 34 acres. even the new blocks being sold, show the whole area as belonging to Southcity and there’s no mention of any relinquishment or public park. But residents association is strong and united and will fight. we are sure Truth will prevail. Satyameva jayate.

  19. It is strange to see that the map shows quite less parkings in the open area. In real there are much open parkings sold by the builder which we have seen during the visit. These parkings seems to be sold without the original plan.

  20. Thank you for bringing this to the public space. We were once very impressed with the quality of construction of the L&T Group, and almost invested in a flat there, thinking that everything seemed clean and above board!

    My appreciation to the members of Sugruha for taking on this fight against powerful adversaries.

  21. It is really a shame on such a big company like L&T to do that. Builder is a builder it is in their blood to cheat. Last month also I was with their sales manager looking for a property even at that time they never told about this dispute and I was under the impression the park and the road are part of L&T south city private property.

    To talk about Ranka, he is known for all these cheap tricks more over he has a land behind L&T and he needs access to it. That is why he is pushing the BDA to take over. To talk about his commitment(mischief) see what has happened in the case of Ranka colony in Bannergatta Road. It is 20 years now still the access road is not there and not resolved thanks to Ranka. I am surprised how these people are not brought before the law. Poor people who bought the villas have no access to their houses and has to cross over drain to go there. During rainy days drain water floods their house. I don’t know how they are tolerating this nonsense. It is pathetic. The flats he has (Ranka Colony)constructed are of cheap quality and outside he has plastered with sand instead of cement which can be viewed.

  22. Its Greed at its core . Even after making an agricultural land into a Gold mine, companies like L&T are still resorting to cheating their very own customers.Go to their marketing office and you find a model complex with all the land and the park being an integral part of the complex residential complex.

    If their logic holds good, people can even show all of lalbagh and a small plot and say preminum project in 1002(eg) acres of land

  23. Now , one by one, the cats are coming out of the bag. Every builder has ulterior hidden motives behind their deeds. Nobody’s hand is clean. Enough money must have been exchanged under the table, to take the Rights of the gullible buyers like what L&T city developers are doing. Brigade Millennium is not far behind in this type affairs. The Millennium Avenue divides 3 apt blocks on one side and 2 on the other.
    Now the road is being given away to BDA for this to be a connecting road from Kothnur side and Bannerghata road on the other. Thus , all the owners of apartment complexes have been taken a jolly ride by Brigade Group. Now they have become super rich and corrupt every official to dance to their tunes. It is time for the realtor crooks to make hay and the courts will be on the side of the rich when interpretation of rules come. Even God cannot save Bangaloreans with all money bags and Govt on one side and the poor Public on the other.

  24. It sad to know that these big companies are cheating customers. The land owner must be having big political connections that is why he could manage all this.

  25. Thanks for highlighting the plight of the apartment owners of L&T South City. L&T has been acting hand in glove with the land owner (ranka) to harass us.

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