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SC Dismisses Builder’s Plea Against Refund

The commission had issued the order on February 17 2016 in response to a complaint by the consumer body Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat (ABGP) on behalf of 132 buyers

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by a city-based real estate firm against the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission’s (NCDRC) order directing it to refund Rs1.34 crore, with 18% per annum as interest, as well as pay Rs4 lakh as damages to 132 home buyers.

The commission had issued the order on February 17 2016 in response to a complaint by the consumer body Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat (ABGP) on behalf of 132 buyers, who had paid varied booking amounts between 2009 and 2010 for ‘KDS Dham’ and ‘KDS Angan’ schemes at Charoli Budruk near Vishrantwadi. The schemes, which were being developed by KDS Infra Buildcon, never took off and the realty firm sold the land meant for the scheme to a third party, leaving the buyers in the lurch.

ABGP filed the complaint before the National commission in 2012 against the firm and its three partners Bhupendrasingh Dhillon, Maruti Budhaji Kadale and Abhijit Maruti Kadale, all residents of NIBM road in Kondhwa.

In June, the ABGP filed an application for execution of the National commission’s order. However, the realty firm filed an appeal in the Supreme Court on January 5 this year challenging the NCDRC order.

In an order on February 17, an apex court bench of Justices J Chelameswar, A M Sapre and S Abdul Nazeer said, “We do not see any cogent reason to entertain the appeal. The judgment impugned does not warrant any interference.” The bench dismissed the appeal “on the grounds of delay as well as on merits”. The TOI had earlier reported the National commission’s order on February 21, 2016.

Lawyer Vijay Kharmale, who was one of the complainants, stated, “We will now pursue the execution plea considering that the overall outstanding amount payable by KDS Infra Buildcons is to the tune of Rs3.11 crore till the date of the apex court order on February 17. Now, the realty firm has no choice but to execute the National commission’s order.” ABGP representatives Vijay Sagar and Ajay Suryavanshi also support the complainants’ stand.

According to the National commission’s order, the 18% per annum interest on Rs1.34 crore refund amount is to be paid to the buyers from the date when they paid the varied amounts to the builder until actual realization. Similarly, the Rs4 lakh compensation was to be paid within 90 days of the order. The realty firm did not pay this amount and therefore an 18% per annum interest will also be applicable on the compensation amount.

“Considering all these factors, the overall outstanding works out to Rs3.11 crore so far and will continue to grow till realization,” Kharmale explained.

The NCDRC had observed that the builder cannot deny customers the benefit of cost escalation by simply returning the booking amount without any interest or compensation for making them wait for years and not delivering the apartments. The commission gave the complainants the benefit of a Supreme Court ruling while granting the compensation.

The NCDRC had dismissed the realty firm’s argument that the person with whom they had an agreement to develop the schemes, sold the land to a third party without their knowledge and hence they themselves were cheated. “The sale order (7/12 extract) hardly dovetails with this contention,” the commission had then said.

On the contention that the complainants had paid only 10% of the purchase price in 2009-10, the commission had observed, “The complainants have waited for their houses for the last six years. It is now apparent that they would not get houses during their lifetime from the opposite parties (realty firm). They will have to try somewhere else,” the commission said.

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