Flat buyers can team up to file complaints against builder
Disputes between buyers and sellers need to be first raised at state- or district-level consumer rights panels, where they are usually stuck for a while. The national panel can be approached only for appeals or if the total value of the disputed deal crosses Rs 1 crore.india Updated: Feb 22, 2017 08:43 IST
The Supreme Court upheld on Tuesday a decision by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) to allow flat buyers to jointly approach it in case of a dispute with a builder, allowing home buyers to leapfrog lower courts and approach the apex consumer rights body.
Disputes between buyers and sellers need to be first raised at state- or district-level consumer rights panels, where they are usually stuck for a while. The national panel can be approached only for appeals or if the total value of the disputed deal crosses Rs 1 crore.
In a case of individuals who bought flats from real estate developer Amrapali, the panel allowed multiple individuals to club their cases to cross the Rs 1-crore ceiling. The developer challenged the decision at the apex court.
“These people have trusted in your business. And you want them to go to the state or district forum,” a bench headed by justice Dipak Mishra told the company’s counsel, Rakesh Kumar. The court’s observation, however, was not part of its written order.
The ruling opens the doors for others stuck with delayed flats to approach the apex panel in a similar manner.
Amrapali Sapphire Flat Buyers Welfare Association moved the NCDRC in May last year. The purchasers got together to form an association and filed four consumer complaints against the company, seeking possession of the flats, an interest payment on the deposits at 12% per annum for delayed possession, adequate parking space and withdrawal of demand for 36 post-dated cheques as monthly maintenance charges.
Amrapalli challenged the complaints on two grounds – one that it was a consolidated complaint of individual grievances and second the association was not recognised as a voluntary consumer association as per the requirements of the law.
The NCDRC dismissed both arguments. An association registered under the Companies Act or any other law in force is a voluntary association as per the law, it held.