[ecis2016.org] In what is bound to be a strong precedent for home buyers all over the country, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, has directed Unitech Limited to refund Rs 3.04 crores to an ex-armyman, for delayed delivery of possession
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has directed Unitech Limited to refund Rs 3.04 crores to a retired army personnel and his wife, with an interest rate of 18 per cent per annum for not delivering possession of a plot by the committed date, saying it was a case of “gross deficiency”.
A bench of the NCDRC passed the order against the real estate major, which has already paid back Rs 45 lakh, to the Punchkula resident Lt Col (retd) Anil Raj and his wife. Besides, the bench also imposed a penalty of Rs five lakh on Unitech for disregarding its interim order passed in September last year, by which it was asked to refund to the complainants, the amount of Rs 3.04 crore deposited by them, along with interest at 10 per cent per annum. “We have no hesitation in holding that it is a case of gross ‘deficiency’ on the part of Unitech in not delivering possession of the plot by the committed date, subjecting the complainants to extreme monetary loss and mental harassment,” a bench, presided by Justice DK Jain, said.
The bench also noted that as per the agreement between the parties, in the event of delay on the part of buyer in making payment of any instalment, the developer was expected to charge an interest at 18 per cent per annum, compounded quarterly, and said that “Logically, in the event of default on its own part, the developer should not shy away from paying interest at the same rate.”
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“Therefore, bearing in mind the amount of monetary loss and harassment suffered by the complainants, in our opinion, it would be just and fair if Unitech is directed to pay to the complainants simple interest at 18 per cent per annum from the date of each deposit, till its realisation,” it said. The bench, while deliberating on the amount of penalty to be imposed on the builder, said “It is a fit case where, while sparing it from a stringent action of attachment of its assets, in terms of Section 25 of Consumer Protection Act, exemplary costs should be imposed on it.”
“Accordingly, we direct that Unitech shall pay to the complainants costs of Rs 3 lakh and deposit a further sum of Rs 2 lakh in the Consumer Welfare fund by way of a demand draft drawn in favour of PAO, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, New Delhi,” the bench said. The complaint, filed against Unitech Limited and its managing director, said the complainants had applied for allotment of a residential plot in the firm’s ‘Aspen Greens’ project at SAS Nagar in Mohali, in December 2011. The cost of plot was fixed at Rs 3.34 crore and it was to be delivered to the complainants within 12 months. The complainants, after raising a housing loan of Rs 2.5 crore, paid Rs 3.04 crore to the developer, the plea said.
However, after a long delay, the complainants sent a legal notice to Unitech in August 2013 and later approached NCDRC, alleging deficiency in service and unfair trade practice on the part of Unitech in not handing over possession of plot within the stipulated timeframe and in pocketing the amount of Rs 3.04 crore. During the proceedings, Unitech had agreed to refund the total amount deposited by the complainants with an interest at 10 per cent per annum. The bench, thereafter, had passed an order in this regard in September last year. However, Unitech failed to comply with that order and the complainant again approached the commission.
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