Homebuyers’ apex body FPCE has expressed concern over real estate law RERA still being non-functional in West Bengal, saying that customers have been left to fend for themselves in the absence of a regulatory authority where they can register their complaints against defaulting builders.
In May last year, the Supreme Court had struck down the West Bengal government’s law WBHIRA for regulating real estate sector, saying it was ”unconstitutional”.
The state government had introduced the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulatory Act (WBHIRA) as a substitute for central law RERA, which was passed by Parliament in 2016.
The apex court’s ruling came on a plea filed by the Forum For People’s Collective Efforts (FPCE), an umbrella body of homebuyers.
When contacted, Abhay Upadhyay, the president of FPCE, said the Supreme Court’s judgement holding WBHIRA, 2017 as unconstitutional paved the way for implementation of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act 2016 (RERA) in the state.
After the court order, he said, the West Bengal government initiated the process of implementing RERA. In July and August last year, the state notified real estate rules under RERA, including for establishing a Real Estate Regulatory Authority and Real Estate Appellate Tribunal.
However, Upadhyay said ”no appointment has been made for chairman and members of the State’s Regulatory Authority or Appellate Tribunal and therefore RERA is not functional.”
Even the website has not been created, he pointed out. Even the website has not been created, he pointed out. ”Very unfortunate, sad and peculiar situation exist in state of West Bengal.
WBHIRA declared unconstitutional and hence non-functional and RERA, though process initiated but still non-functional, even though more than a year has now elapsed,” Upadhyay rued.
As a result, he said, homebuyers who filed complaints against builders before WBHIRA are completely in the dark. ”They don’t know if their complaint will be heard by RERA (if and when functional) from where it was left at WBHIRA or will they have to file fresh complaints before RERA,” Upadhyay said.
In many cases, homebuyers got refund orders and recovery certificates but they are not being enforced since WBHIRA has been declared unconstitutional, he mentioned.
”Those who wish to file fresh complaints have nowhere to go. Those prospective homebuyers who wish to buy new houses have no source of getting authentic information as the RERA website is not functional,” Upadhyay said. On the other hand, the FPCE president said, the builders are having a free run.
Upadhyay said builders are launching and advertising new projects without RERA registration, which is mandatory. Since RERA is not functional in West Bengal, investments of homebuyers are at risk and consumers could be exploited, he pointed out.
In April, the Central Advisory Council (CAC), which ensures implementation of RERA across states, in a meeting decided that a committee will be formed, comprising government representatives, homebuyers and builders, to take up the issue of implementation of RERA in the states of West Bengal and Telangana.
However, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has not formed the committee till now, said Upadhyay, who is also a member of the CAC, representing FPCE.
The CAC has been constituted under the provisions of RERA. ”It is very, very sad and unfortunate that homebuyers of West Bengal has been left to fend for themselves and all three pillars, that is judiciary, legislature and executives, have turned blind eye to their sufferings,” Upadhyay said.
It is high time that RERA is made functional and homebuyers’ concerns addressed before they completely lose faith in the entire system, he added. As per the ’Implementation Progress Report’ as on June 25, 2022 posted on the website of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, all states/UTs have notified rules under RERA except Nagaland.
As many as 31 states/Union Territories have set up the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Regular – 25, Interim – 6). Ladakh, Meghalaya, Sikkim and West Bengal have notified the rules but are yet to establish an authority.
As many as 28 states/UTs have set up Real Estate Appellate Tribunal (Regular – 24, Interim – 4). Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim and West Bengal are under process to establish the appellate tribunal.
As per the ministry’s data, 85,390 real estate projects and 64,959 real estate agents have registered under RERA across the country, while 95,903 complaints have been disposed of by the real estate regulatory authorities.