Does the roof of the dream flat you just bought leak or are its walls already developing cracks? You can now sue the builder under the Consumer Protection Act.
The Supreme Court (SC) has said a private developer selling a flat to a consumer can be defined as a service and thus falls under the Act. Advocates say that now flat owners can get speedier justice through consumer courts, instead of approaching a cooperative court or high court.
While hearing a petition filed by a construction company, a division bench of justice TS Thakur and justice Gyan Sudha Misra after going through its earlier judgements of the apex court held that "if a builder of a house uses substandard material for construction or makes false or misleading representations about the condition of the house, then it is denial of a facility or benefit of which a consumer is entitled to claim value under the Act."
The construction company had asked for clarification on whether developing a plot, providing a flat and amenities to a consumer amounts to rendering a service. The order was passed on May 10.
"A flat with a leaking roof, or cracking wall or substandard floor is denial of service…. when the contractor or builder undertakes to erect a house or flat then it is inherent in it that he shall perform his obligation as agreed to," the bench noted.
Advocate Arfan Sait said that when there is deficiency in service, the consumer act comes to play. "So instead of approaching a cooperative court or high court, consumers can get speedy justice in a consumer court." The SC had earlier observed that the provisions of the Act must be liberally interpreted in favour of the consumers.