An appeal to prevent the demolition has been thrown out by the Supreme Court, which released its entire verdict on Tuesday afternoon.
The BGMEA building stands on a crucial spot which, if demolished, will connect the only two living canals of Dhaka – Hatirjheel and Begunbari – and greatly facilitate the waterflow through the capital.
Also read- No bar to demolishing BGMEA building
The full verdict said BGMEA will have to bear the cost of demolishing the building. If they do not, then Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) will start to demolish it within 90 days from the date of receipt of this judgment and realise the entire demolition costs from the BGMEA.
The Supreme Court judgment upholds a High Court verdict that had directed authorities concerned to demolish the fifteen storied commercial complex as it was constructed illegally.
The 35-page full text singed by the Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, Justice Hasan Foez Siddique and Justice Mirza Hussain Haider was published.
The verdict said that the building was constructed without taking environment clearance certificate. Also the site clearance was obtained for an industrial building but the BGMEA complex was not an industrial one.
There were anomalies found in the ownership of the land. Five years prior to getting ownership in the hand of Export Promotion Bureau, the Bureau transferred it to the BGMEA in 2001.
“Considering all these aspects we do not find any reason to interfere with the impugned judgment and order of the High Court Division which is well reasoned and based on proper appreciation of facts and circumstances as well as the law,” the verdict reads.
“As such we have no hesitation to hold that the BGMEA building complex has been constructed by the petitioner illegally in violation of all the laws of the land which cannot stay upright rather the same deserves to be demolished at once,” the Apex court said in its verdict.
The verdict said that the transfer deed also admitted the fact which was stated in the government record and in the Master Plan of the Dhaka City that the 'Begunbari Khal' and 'Hatirjheel Lake' are natural waterbodies.
According to the Joladhar Ain 2000 the class or the nature and character of a waterbody cannot be changed nor can be it used in any other manner or purpose nor can be leased out, rented or transferred by anybody and nobody can claim any compensation if illegal construction or obstruction built on it is demolished.
It said that the natural waterbodies situated in their present location since time immemorial and remained undisturbed even after the construction of Tongi Diversion Road, and Panthapath in last four/five decades.
The waterbodies are connected with the Buriganga river, through canals, which play a pivotal role, like many other water bodies in and around Dhaka City, in keeping the capital safe from water logging and flooding during monsoon. Now these are the only living water-bodies in the memory of the inhabitants of Dhaka.
It said that to protect the waterbodies from grabbers the government took up a huge project involving more than TK. 1,480 crores known as 'Hatirjheel-Begunbari Project' so that the city dwellers get a breathing place.
“But the BGMEA in the name of constructing its own office Complex joined the land grabbers and accordingly managed to get permission from the Government as well as from the
RAJUK to build a 15 storied building on the said waterbodies.”
“Accordingly it constructed the said building defying all the laws of the land and thereby eclipsing the said waterbodies, and thereby restricting/depriving the people to have the full enjoyment of the facilities supposed to be provided in the said waterbodies under the project,” it added.
The Apex court maintained the High Court's order which had held that the money invested by the BGMEA in the construction of building can never be grounds to allow it to stay upright.
It said that the BGMEA must return the money to those who bought flats/spaces in the building, as those transactions stand vitiated, within 12 months from the date of receipt of the claim.
The flats/spaces buyers, cannot however, claim interest, because they are guilty of contributory negligence as they had actual or constructive knowledge about BGMEA’s bareness of title and the illegality as to the construction of the building.
The High Court order was delivered in April 2011 asking to demolish the building within three months as it was built on a land acquired through forgery and land-filling the water body, illegally.
Later, the SC stayed the HC order following a petition filed by the BGMEA.
The HC verdict said that the land was acquired for the then East Bengal Railway in 1910 and it was in the possession of the Bangladesh Railway until 2006. The railway authorities handed over the land to EPB in 2006, though BGMEA documents showed that they bought the land from EPB in 2001.
The High Court verdict was delivered on a suo-moto rule which was initiated after a news report on the issue was brought to the court's notice in October 2010.