In a significant ruling, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission delivered a verdict in favor of Mohana R. Bharadwaj, a homebuyer who filed a complaint against M/s. Suadela Constructions Pvt. Ltd. The case, registered as Consumer Case No. 1860 of 2018, sheds light on the challenges faced by consumers in the real estate sector and highlights the importance of consumer protection laws. This article provides an in-depth analysis of the case and its implications for both homebuyers and construction companies.
Mohana R. Bharadwaj, a resident of Bangalore, had booked a 3BHK flat in the "House of Hiranandani- Lake Verandahs" project developed by M/s. Suadela Constructions Pvt. Ltd. The complainant alleged that the construction company failed to deliver possession within the promised timeframe and did not respond to requests for a refund. Seeking justice, Bharadwaj filed a complaint demanding the refund of the deposited amount with interest, compensation for financial loss, and litigation costs.
The complainant, represented by Mr. D.P. Chaturvedi, Advocate, contended that the opposite party had breached the terms of the agreement by failing to provide possession within the stipulated time. Bharadwaj had diligently made the necessary payments as per the payment plan but was wrongly portrayed as a defaulter. The complainant suffered financial loss due to the delay, leading to the claim for compensation.
The opposite party, represented by Mr. Shekhar G. Devasa and Mr. Manish Tiwari, Advocates, countered the allegations by claiming that possession was offered after obtaining the necessary "occupation certificate." They asserted that the complainant had not fulfilled the requirements for executing the agreement for sale and construction agreement, and therefore, the complaint was not maintainable. Additionally, they argued that the complainant had booked multiple flats for speculative purposes rather than personal use, challenging Bharadwaj's status as a consumer.
The Commission's Verdict:
After careful examination of the arguments and evidence, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission delivered its verdict. The commission acknowledged that possession was offered after obtaining the occupation certificate and that reminders were sent to the complainant for completing the necessary documentation and depositing the balance amount. Therefore, there was no unreasonable delay in offering possession, and the opposite party had not committed any deficiency in service.
However, the commission recognized the complainant's claim for a refund. Referring to relevant precedents, including the case of Maula Bux vs. Union of India, the commission noted that the forfeiture of the earnest money should be reasonable and based on actual damages suffered by the construction company. The commission concluded that forfeiting 10% of the sale price as earnest money was justifiable, as the cancellation of the allotment resulted in no actual damage to the developer.
Commission's Order and Implications:
In its order, the commission directed M/s. Suadela Constructions Pvt. Ltd. to refund the entire amount deposited by the complainant, totaling Rs. 15,532,283, with an interest rate of 9% per annum from the respective deposit dates. However, 10% of the sale price, amounting to Rs. 1,909,888, was to be forfeited as earnest money. The construction company was given a period of two months from the date of the judgment to comply with the order.
This judgment sets an important precedent for homebuyers and construction companies alike. It reinforces the significance of adhering to contractual obligations and emphasizes the need for transparency and accountability in the real estate sector. Homebuyers can take solace in the fact that the consumer protection laws are in place to safeguard their interests and hold developers accountable for any deficiencies in service.
The ruling also highlights the importance of timely possession and completion of projects by construction companies. It serves as a reminder to developers that they must fulfill their commitments and deliver properties within the agreed-upon timeframe. Failure to do so can result in legal repercussions and financial consequences.
The case number, Consumer Case No. 1860 of 2018, acts as a reference point for future disputes and legal proceedings in similar cases. It provides a legal precedent for consumers to seek remedies for delays and breaches of contract.
This verdict brings attention to the significance of a fair and balanced approach in determining compensation. By considering the actual damages suffered by both parties, the commission struck a reasonable balance between protecting the interests of the homebuyer and acknowledging the financial implications for the construction company.
It is crucial for consumers to exercise due diligence when entering into agreements with construction companies. Conducting thorough research, reviewing contractual terms, and seeking legal advice can help buyers make informed decisions and safeguard their interests. This case serves as a reminder to be cautious and vigilant throughout the property purchasing process.
In conclusion, the partial victory secured by Mohana R. Bharadwaj in Consumer Case No. 1860 of 2018 against M/s. Suadela Constructions Pvt. Ltd. reinforces the importance of consumer protection laws in the real estate sector. While the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission recognized the construction company's compliance with possession timelines, it also acknowledged the complainant's right to a refund. This judgment sets a precedent for future cases and emphasizes the need for transparency, accountability, and adherence to contractual obligations in the real estate industry.
Note: Please note that the information provided in this article about the complaint filed in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) is for educational purposes only. The complaint number for reference is CONSUMER CASE NO. 1860 OF 2018
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