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Consumer forum comes to rescue of judges

Mohali District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has come to the rescue of high-profile judges and officers of the state.

Mohali District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has come to the rescue of high-profile judges and officers of the state. Aggrieved over the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority’s (GMADA) demand of non-construction charges and extension fee to allow work after the expiry of the stipulated time period,besides non-development and non-provision of basic civic amenities in their area,the Punjab Judges and Officers Rural Cooperative House Building Society had moved the Forum seeking relief. The Society had developed Punjab Judges and Officers Enclave over 14 acres in Sector 77 to provide housing to over a hundred of its members.

Allowing the complaint filed under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act -1986 by the Society through its secretary and 18 aggrieved members,the Forum’s full bench — headed by president B S Mehandiratta and comprising members Dr S S Dhaliwal and H K Ghuman — directed the GMADA authorities to withdraw the demand for non-construction charges and extension fee running into several lakhs of rupees,besides refunding Rs 67,825 charged from an aggrieved member.

The Forum observed: “In our view,any unilateral clause cannot give GMADA the right to claim non-construction or extension fee from an allottee without undertaking external development in the shape of roads,through which construction material can be transported; water supply required for raising construction; sewerage as well as streetlights. These facilities are yet to be provided. In case the GMADA is restricted in its resolve to provide external development on account of any court litigation,which in our view,should itself debar it from claiming non-construction charges and extension fee from an allottee within the Enclave till vacation of the stay order.”

The complainants had submitted that their Cooperative House Building Society had purchased 19 acres of land,which was acquired by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) — now succeeded by GMADA. However,PUDA had agreed to return (re-allot) over 14 acres of land.

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“At the time of re-allotment in January 2004,the area was inhabitable and we had to spend crores for its development. PUDA had demanded Rs 1,05,89,603 on account of external development charges (EDC) to provide connectivity and basic civic amenities to our residential colony,which we had paid. Still no basic civic amenities were provided by PUDA/GMADA,leaving the area technically non-feasible,” the complainants stated. “The GMADA charged non-completion charges and extension fee to allow construction. When we refused,we were denied the completion certificates,” they alleged.

In a joint reply,GMADA Estate Officer,SDO (Buildings) and Chief Administrator said: “The complainants were not consumers and therefore,the complaint is not maintainable. Non-construction fee has been charged/demanded due to their failure to raise construction within stipulated period. The provision of facilities/basic civic amenities was not a condition precedent for payment of EDC. The complaint is barred by time and without cause of action. The Forum does not have the jurisdiction to entertain and try the complaint in view of Section 172 of the Punjab Regional Town Planning and Development Act -1995.”

First published on: 23-02-2011 at 02:06 IST
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