CAN A builder be held responsible for unfair trade practices if the representative company does not provide possession of an apartment despite executing an agreement and collecting charges? Yes, said the Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission while directing a realtor to refund more than Rs 65 lakh besides slapping a fine of Rs 20,000 on him for not providing an apartment to a consumer within the stipulated time. Citing a legal principle, the commission — headed by member Anil Srivastava — said the national consumer commission had on September 19, 2014, ruled that “the act of a builder in not handing over possession of the edifices, even after collecting total charges and executing the agreement, amounts to deceptive practice, and in turn, amounts to unfair trade practice”.
Air Commodore Davinder Singh Sant and his wife had moved the commission, stating that Platinum Suites Pvt Ltd and Vardhman Estates and Developers — represented by director Raju Verma — had not provided them possession of two studio apartments though they were supposed to get possession of the flats by September 2012. According to their counsel, they had paid a total of Rs 65.36 lakh along with Rs 2.76 lakh (this cheque amount had not been encashed) for the flats in Greater Noida in June 2012. Despite representation for refund of the paid amount — after the flats were not handed over in time — the realtor did not refund the amount, the counsel said.
Noting that the consumers had filed their evidence, the commission said that despite being served notice through Registered Post with Acknowledgment Due (RAD), no one appeared on behalf of the realtor. So, the case was set ex-parte (proceedings to continue in its absence). “There is nothing on record to controvert the submissions made by the complainant… This leads to an inevitable and inescapable conclusion that the opposite party has been deficient in discharge of their part in pursuance of the agreement, which was executed soon after the booking of the flat. Deficiency in service is established,” said the commission.
It then directed the realtor to refund the amount paid, along with 12 per cent interest and fine, for causing mental agony and suffering. Despite repeated attempts, the realtor was unavailable for comments.