National consumer dispute redressal commission (NCDRC) has ordered New Delhi-based Raheja Developers Ltd to refund Rs1.17 crore to two buyers, Reshu Kansal and Nitin Gupta, after it found that the developer had failed to handover possession of the flats as promised. NCDRC also rapped the developer for its one-sided and unfair agreement signed with the home-buyers.
In the order, the bench of justice RK Agarwal, Dr SM Kantikar, and Binoy Kumar says, "The opposite party developer (Raheja Developers) had failed to deliver the possession of the apartment even after more than eight years of the booking of the apartment. The complainants cannot be made to wait indefinitely. The complainants had not made a prayer for delivery of possession in the consumer complaint but sought a refund of the amount paid by them to the opposite party developer on account of the delay in offering possession of the allotted unit to them. Consequently, the opposite party developer is directed to refund the complainants a sum of Rs1.17 crore along with interest of 9% per annum from the respective dates of deposit till the date of actual refund within six weeks from the date of passing of this order, failing which the rate of interest will increase to 12%. The opposite party developer is also directed to pay a sum of Rs50,000 towards the cost to the complainants within six weeks from today."
Both Reshu Kansal and Nitin Gupta had booked an apartment in the Raheja Revanta project launched by the developer. The total cost of the apartment was Rs1.33 crore, and the buyers paid an advance payment of Rs31 lakh each. An agreement was executed between both parties on 31 March 2014.
The agreement stated that the delivery of the possession was to be offered within 54 months (48 months plus a grace period of six months) from the date of execution of the agreement. After obtaining a loan of Rs99 lakh, the complainants paid up to Rs1.17 crore. But the developer failed to deliver the possession on time.
A complaint was lodged by the buyers demanding the developer to refund the amount along with an interest of 18% per annum, Rs5 lakh for mental agony, and Rs2 lakh for litigation costs.
In the contention to the NCDRC, the developer stated that the buyers were real estate speculators and had other intentions. It was also stated that the construction of the structure in the tower in which the complainant's apartment is located is completed. As per RERA, Haryana, the project's completion date is June 2022.
It further stated that the delay in the project is due to factors for which the developer cannot be made accountable as the government agencies miserably failed to provide essential basic infrastructure facilities such as roads, sewage lines, water and electricity supply in the sector where the project is located.
According to the developer, the buyers denied the provision of compensation of Rs7/sqft (square foot) as they were greedy to make a profit.
NCDRC, after perusal of every contention and document, found that the agreement was one-sided and aligned toward the developer.
"A bare perusal of the agreement makes it clear that as per clause 3.14, in case of delay, the purchaser was liable to pay interest of 18%, whereas as per clause 4.2, in case of delay in possession, the developer is liable to pay meagre compensation in the form of Rs7 per sq ft. This shows that the terms of the agreement are wholly one-sided and unfair. Therefore, the complainant cannot be made bound to the terms of the agreement, which is one-sided and unfair in the light of the recent Judgment of the supreme court in Pioneer Urban Land & Infrastructure Ltd vs Govindan Raghavan, II (2019) CPJ 34." the bench says.
NCDRC directed Raheja Developers to refund the amount of Rs1.17 crore each to the buyers at an interest rate of 9% per annum. The litigation cost of Rs50,000 should also be provided to the buyers by the developer.
(Consumer Case No477 of 2020 Date: 13 March 2023)