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Go tough on builders, Maharashtra consumer commission tells district forums

The commission has asked forums to impose strict punishment, as specified under section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act.

mumbai Updated: Aug 19, 2017 00:58 IST
Charul Shah
Charul Shah
Hindustan Times
mumbai,mumbai news,mumbai real estate
The commission has now asked the forums to impose maximum punishment on the builders to make sure they comply with the final orders passed in favour of the consumers(HT)

The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC) has asked the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums to punish builders if they failed to comply with the orders passed against them for deficiency in services.

The commission has asked forums to impose strict punishment, as specified under section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act. According to section 27, if the builder failed to comply with the order passed by the forums or commission, they can be sentenced to imprisonment from one month to three years along with a fine, which can be between Rs2,000 to Rs10,000 depending upon the case.

The commission has now asked the forums to impose maximum punishment on the builders to make sure they comply with the final orders passed in favour of the consumers. The commission observed that in the cases against builders, the objective is that the consumers who have invested their hard earned money to purchase a flat should be given possession in the duly completed building as per the plan.

The commission seeking a strict action against the builders, observed, “Unless the builders are in a fear of appropriate punishment under section 27 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986, they may not comply with the final order. The fear of punishment under section 27 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 makes the opponent duty bound to comply with the final order passed by the Consumer Fora,” the commission observed.

The commission was dealing with a complaint filed by two sisters from Borivli — Smita Shah and Vibha Shah. The two had booked a flat in Oswal Empire, Thane. They were due to get possession in 2005-06. However, the builder failed to give possession of the flat. Hence the sisters filed a consumer complaint with Thane District consumer forum in 2006.

The forum held the builder guilty of deficiency in services and asked to execute the sales deed on payment of balance amount by the sisters in 2007. Even after the said order the builder did not give possession of the flat. Hence the sisters sought action against the builder under section 27 of consumer protection act which provides for punishment to the opponent for failure to comply with the order.

The forum though held the builder guilty for non-compliance of the order, left him only with a fine of Rs 10000. The sister challenged the said order before the state consumer commission. The commission appointed advocate Ajay Pawar as Amicus Curie (friend of the court) to assist in the case. Pawar submitted that under the provision of section 27 of consumer protection act the opponent can be sentenced upto three years with fine

“The sisters had deposited the balance amount with the forum still there was no move from the builder for many years,” Pawar said while speaking to Hindustan Times.

The commission took note of the provision and held that the punishment awarded by the forum was very less. “This punishment is extremely lenient, insufficient and defeats the very purpose of relief of passing of the final order. As the opponents are found guilty, they would go away scot-free being subjected to very lighter punishment as has been done by the Forum below.” The commission has now remanded the case back to forum directing it to take strict view against the builder.

First Published: Aug 19, 2017 00:57 IST