The Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) is on the receiving end for failing to pay interest while refunding the earnest money of unsuccessful applicants of its 'Self-Financing Housing Scheme-2008', after retaining it for about three years.
Disposing of 16 complaints of unsuccessful applicants in its order dated December 30, the district consumer disputes redressal forum, Chandigarh, held the CHB deficient in services for retaining the earnest money for three years and refunding it without paying interest. The forum has now directed the board to pay bank interest on Rs. 70,000 deposited by all these 16 applicants from December 2010 (one month after the draw of lots, wherein the complainant was not successful) to March 2013, along with paying Rs. 7,000 each as cost of litigation.
The forum, which was presided over by PL Ahuja, said, “The CHB officials were performing not a statutory but an administrative function for consideration and since they acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner causing mental agony to the consumer, therefore, compensation in the form of interest can be awarded due to rendering of deficient services. Such compensation is a check on arbitrary and capricious exercise of power by the officials which helps in curing social evils and in changing the outlook of the public servants.”
The consumer forum held, “We feel that there is no justification on the part of CHB to retain the earnest money and not to make payment of any interest thereon, thus the unsuccessful applicants are entitled to savings bank rate of interest beyond the period of 30 days of draw of lots.”
About 16 applicants had moved the forum saying that they had applied for a flat in the scheme launched by the CHB under the name 'Self-Financing Housing Scheme 2008” for employees of the UT administration and deposited a total sum of Rs. 70,000 as earnest money.
The complainants alleged that draw of lots against this scheme was held in November 2010 and they were unsuccessful.
On approaching the CHB for refund of earnest money, the complainants in pursuance of the assurance given by the CHB, submitted an application to the CHB that since the matter for allotment of flats/house to all unsuccessful applicants is under consideration with the UT administration, they do not want the refund of earnest money till the final decision is taken and they will not claim any interest on it.
The CHB in reply pleaded that in wake of the undertaking given by the complainants, they were not entitled to any interest whatsoever on the earnest money deposited by them.