Forum for People's Collective Efforts (FPCE), an umbrella association for homebuyers, has filed a plea in the Supreme Court, stating that the members of RERA Authority and the Appellate Tribunal have not yet been appointed in West Bengal and the portal is not yet functional even after eight months of the apex court striking down West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WBHIRA) 2017 as ‘unconstitutional’.
While the state government has notified RERA rules, established the RERA Authority and the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, it has yet to appoint the personnel therein. Even the web portal is not yet operational, FPCE said in its plea.
Homebuyers have approached the apex court to pass an order directing the state government to implement RERA in a time-bound manner and file a compliance report before the court within three months. They also want the court to direct the state government to immediately appoint the chairperson and members of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) as also the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal within a period of four weeks so as to ensure registration of the real estate projects, filing of complaints and hearing under RERA, it said.
It noted that the RERA Authority as also the RERA Appellate Tribunal exists only on paper and is completely non-functional. “Until and unless the concerned authorities are made functional through appointments by the Government, the constitution of such authorities is nothing but a sham. The Government has, on paper, constituted the Authority and the Appellate Tribunal but has chosen not to appointment their members,” FPCE noted.
“That the aforesaid compliance is nothing but lip-service to the provisions of the RERA. The clear intendment of the Government seems to be to defeat the object for which RERA was enacted that is protection to the homebuyers and regulating the real estate sector,” it said.
FPCE said that the state government has not taken appropriate action to implement RERA provisions in ‘letter and spirit’ resulting in an unregulated real estate sector. In absence of the government taking appropriate action, the RERA merely remains a paper tiger and the builders are free to wreak havoc at their own whims and fancies, it said.
The homebuyers’ body has said in a miscellaneous application, that the rights and duties of buyers have become a hollow statutory promise since there is no authority to enforce the same, and they are effectively left remediless in such a situation. Those who have already complained before WBHIRA and proceedings under way are left in lurch and are now being exploited even more by the promoters/ builders as they can do nothing to get their complaint heard, it said.
FPCE noted that the “laxity on part of the government is resulting the builders to proceed with their real estate projects in full impunity to the provisions of RERA. Due to non-appointment of the members of the Authority, its functioning is still a distant dream. Meanwhile, it is the homebuyers who continue to suffer at the hands of the builder,” the application said.
It noted that provisions concerning registration of real estate projects and registration of real estate agents are being openly flouted by the builders since there is no functioning authority. Various new real estate projects are being advertised and launched by the promoters which are in clear violation of the provisions of RERA.
Even a website has not been maintained to the detriment of the general public and homebuyers. On the contrary, the website of WBHIRA Regulatory Authority continues to exist, thereby misleading of the people at large, the body said.
It said that the applicant had written several letters and emails asking the state and the central governments to effectively and expeditiously implement the RERA in the state.
Abhay Upadhyay, President of FPCE and Member, Central Advisory Council, RERA, MoHUA, said that even after eight months of the apex court striking down WBHIRA, RERA is yet to be implemented in West Bengal. This has left the homebuyers in the lurch as neither new complaint can be filed against builders nor existing complaints already filed before erstwhile WBHIRA can be continued.
“This has led to a situation where homebuyers are being subjected to even more ruthless exploitation by builders since there is now no mechanism in the state for redressal of homebuyers’ grievances. This has proven to be a blessing in disguise for the builders who are violating the provisions of RERA with impunity and are launching projects without registration and proper disclosures,” he said.
The Supreme Court on May 4 struck down West Bengal's Housing Industry Regulation Act (WBHIRA) 2017, the law regulating the state’s real estate sector, saying it was ‘unconstitutional’ as it creates a parallel regime and is in direct conflict with the Centre’s Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA).
The state law has encroached upon the domain of the Parliament and hence is unconstitutional, the verdict said.The West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (HIRA), 2017 is more or less identical to the Centre's RERA and hence repugnant to Parliament's law, the bench had said.