The Supreme Court has upheld the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission’s order passed against a real estate company to refund Rs 1.19 crore to a homebuyer along with simple interest of 9 percent instead of 10 percent per annum earlier.
“The decision of the NCDRC is based on pure findings of fact. Despite receiving an amount of Rs 1.19 crores from the respondent, the appellant put up a case that there was no flat buyer’s agreement. This has been disbelieved. The appellant failed to deliver possession within the contractual period. There is no error in the findings on the basis of which a refund of consideration has been directed,” the Supreme Court said in its order.
The court has directed NCR-based developer BPTP to ensure full payment in compliance with the NCDRC order with interest at the rate of 9 percent per annum to the buyer on or before July 15, 2021.
BPTP refused to comment.
The NCDRC order
On June 18 last year, in its first order passed against a real estate company during the coronavirus pandemic, through virtual mode, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) had directed BPTP to refund Rs 1.19 crore to the homebuyer. It also ordered the developer to pay Rs 50,000 in litigation costs as well as interest of 10 percent a year to Oman-based Sanjay Rastogi.
The homebuyer, in his complaint, had alleged unfair trade practices such as deficiency in service despite having paid 80 percent of the unit's amount to the builder, extension of the construction period, onerous and one-sided terms and conditions that the buyer had to accept, and also an escalation in the total consideration from Rs 1.26 crore to around Rs 1.45 crore.
The consumer complaint was filed on November 30, 2017 under Section 21 read with Section 12 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The buyer had invested in the project, Astaire Gardens in Gurgaon, in 2012. He had paid Rs 7 lakh as the booking amount in May 2012. The total cost of the unit was Rs 1.26 crore, including Rs 2 lakh for club membership.
The allotment letter provided for possession within 30 months from the date of signing the Floor Buyer’s Agreement (FBA), which was executed on October 25, 2012, after having paid Rs 17.25 lakh.
The FBA promised possession to the buyer within 36 months from the date of the sanctioning of the building plan or execution of the FBA and also allowed a grace period of 180 days.
“Important issues have been upheld by the apex court. The first is that even if the builder does not sign the builder-buyer agreement but receives money from the buyer, he is bound by his commitment. A buyer cannot be blamed for not signing the agreement. This order also makes it clear that a buyer can seek a refund even if possession has been granted and the complaint has been filed later on account of the delay in receiving the offer of possession,” said Aditya Parolia of PSP Legal.