Observing that when possession is not delivered within the stipulated time, the allottee is entitled to refund with reasonable interest, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission directed a Gurugram-based real estate developer to pay Rs 64 lakh to a Mumbai-based family who had booked a villa in 2009, but did not receive possession.
Besides Rs 25,000 litigation expenses, the complainants, Andheri residents, Pratibha and Nagendra Singh are also likely to receive Rs 30 lakh interest as the commission has levied 9% interest on the developer, Vatika Ltd. The developer had argued that since there was no prayer for a refund in the Singhs’ complaint, they should be directed to take possession of the villa. The developer said the completion certificate was obtained for the villa.
However, the commission pointed out that one of their prayers read “pass such orders… as may be deemed fit and proper on the facts and in the circumstances of this case.” “This clause covers any other relief which this commission finds appropriate and, therefore, it cannot be said that no order except for the order of possession can be passed in this complaint,” the national commission said.
The commission cited an SC judgment which held that a person cannot be made to take delayed possession of the plot allotted to him and he can instead seek refund along with compensation.
In the complaint submitted in 2018, the Singhs told the commission they were to receive possession in 2012. They also submitted that without their consent, the villa had been changed and an offer for possession of another property was made. The Singhs further said the developer sought additional amounts toward holding charges, maintenance charges and restoration cost which they said flouted terms and conditions of the agreement.
The developer claimed cost escalation was due to increase in area of the villa. The developer cited unavailability of manpower, material, electricity and economic slowdown as reasons for delay. It said the agreement had factored in extension of time for reasons beyond the developer’s control.
However, holding the developer guilty of deficiency in service, the commission said at no stage was the project suspended. “The benefit of this clause is available to the opposite party only when the project is suspended… there is no evidence on record to prove the delay had occurred due to any reason mentioned in the clause,” the commission said.