The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission of Chandigarh has slapped a penalty of Rs 2 lakh on a city-based estate builder which increased the super area of a booked flat, arbitrarily increased its price without consent from the customer, and delayed giving the possession.
Emaar MGF Pvt Ltd has also been directed to pay Rs 11,000 on account of litigation expenses. Complainants Col SK Malhotra and his wife Krishna Malhotra were allotted a residential unit having super built area of 1,750 sq.ft in Mohali for a price of Rs 51.6 lakh. According to the agreement, the flat was to be handed over in January 2008 and, in the event of delay, a compensation at Rs 5 per sq ft per month was to be paid to the allottee.
Col. Malhotra stated that the project was delayed by over two and half years. Although they paid all instalments regularly, an amount of Rs 9,121 was charged on account of delayed payments. In 2013, the company changed the lay-out, arbitrarily increased the area of the apartment from 1,750 sq ft to 2,051 sq ft and raised the price by approximately 12.5 lakh.
The applicants made several requests to waive off the increased price, but the company did not agree. Feeling cheated, Malhotra filed a complaint in the consumer court, seeking directions to the company to refund Rs 12.5 lakh charged for increasing the area of the flat, along with Rs 2.5 lakh towards compensation.
The company, however, stated, “The complainants after having paid the charges towards increase in the super area without protest were estopped from challenging the same at this stage. The complainants delayed many payments, for which, delayed payment charges were levied from time to time and we were liable to pay the compensation for the delay only if the allottee had complied with all the terms and conditions of the agreement.”
It was further stated that, in the allotment letter issued in 2008, it was clearly stated that the last installment of 5 per cent would be waived if there were no pending dues.
The commission rejected the company’s contention. Commission chairman Justice (Retd) Sham Sunder ruled that although the super area of the flat was tentative and subject to change, in the instant case the increase in the area was more than 10 per cent, therefore, the company was required to inform the allottees and seek their consent.