The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, the country's apex consumer court, has criticised the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for its tendency to delay handing over possession of flats for years after allotment.
"Such delays adversely affect the interests of thousands of citizens who come to the DDA for…basic human needs like housing," a bench of Justice R.C. Jain and Member Anupam Dasgupta said in an order on Monday.
The commission said it was high time the administrative head of the DDA looked into matters pertaining to its core functions. It said the DDA should fix responsibility for undue delays, take punitive action in appropriate cases and introduce systemic changes to minimise, if not eliminate, such delays altogether.
"These delays breed corruption and bring disrepute to the authority," the Bench added.
The DDA wanted the court to a condone a delay of 205 days in filing an appeal against a 2008 order by the State Consumer forum in connection with a case filed by Amarjit Kohli, a flat allottee. The court dismissed the appeal.
The state panel had asked DDA to pay Kohli an interest of 12% per annum for six years -- from March 1992 to August 1998 when possession was given -- on Rs 3.3 lakh deposited as full cost of the flat and a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the mental agony, harassment and financial loss suffered owing to the delay as the price had escalated more than five times.
Kohli died while the case was on and his wife Surinder Kaur carried forward his fight for compensation.
Not "all is well"
"The worst that can happen to a public authority like DDA is to pretend that all is well when rest of the world thinks otherwise," the commission said.
"We hope our observations will spur DDA to some meaningful action to curb delays in areas which constitute its basic functions though they may not be as glamorous or eye-catching as the large, high-visibility projects which are displayed on its website," it said.
Taking serious note of DDA's delay in filing appeals and then seeking waivers, the forum said: "We have noticed that almost every appeal/revision filed by the DDA was after the statutory period of limitation, seeking condonation of delay on one ground or the other."