By Ssangeeta Sharma
New Delhi, Apr 14 (ILNS) The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission’s order against a real estate company to refund Rs 1.19 crore to a homebuyer, along with simple interest of nine percent, instead of 10 percent per annum.
A Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah said that the real estate company failed to deliver possession within the contractual period and directed the BPTP to make the full payment to the aggrieved homebuyer, in compliance with the order of the NCDRC, on or before July 15, 2021. The Bench, however, reduced the interest rate from 10 percent to nine percent per annum.
The Supreme Court said the decision of NCDRC is based on pure findings of fact. Despite receiving an amount of Rs 1.19 crore from the consumer, BPTP made a case that there was no flat buyer’s agreement with him. The Court said that this should be disbelieved. The company failed to deliver possession within the contractual period. There is no error in the findings of NCRDC order, on the basis of which, a refund of consideration has been ordered, it added.
The Court held that there is no error in the findings on the basis of which a refund of consideration has been directed. However, Senior Counsel appearing for BPTP, Siddharth Bhatnagar, submitted that the rate of interest may be suitably scaled down, having regard to the earlier decisions of this Court, including the decision in IREO Grace Realtech Private Limited vs Abhishek Khanna and Others (2021) 3 SCC 241.
The apex court further said, “Having regard to the rate of interest, which has been fixed in other cases such as the present, we reduce the interest from 10 percent to nine percent per annum. The appellant is, however, directed to ensure that full payment in compliance with the order of the NCDRC with interest at the rate of nine percent per annum is paid over to the respondent on or before July 15, 2021”.
The case pertains to Oman-based homebuyer Sanjay Rastogi, who had filed a complaint in the NCRDC on November 30, 2017, through Advocate Aditya Parolia of law firm PSP Legal. The complainant alleged unfair trade practices, such as deficiency in service. Despite having paid 80 percent of the unit’s amount to the builder, the extension of the construction period was announced on one-sidedly terms and conditions that the buyer had to accept, and also an escalation in the total consideration amount from Rs 1.26 crore to around Rs 1.45 crore was levelled.
The buyer said he had invested in the project Astaire Gardens in Gurgaon, in 2012. He was allotted unit C-70-GF, with built-up area of 2512 sq ft vide allotment letter dated June 8, 2012 at a total cost of Rs 1,26,19,588, including Rs two lakh for club membership. According to Clause 24 of the allotment letter provided by the builder, possession would be provided within 30 months from the date of signing of Floor Buyers Agreement (FBA), executed on October 25, 2012, after having paid Rs 17,24,055. Clause 5.1 of FBA promised possession within 36 months from the date of sanctioning of the building plan or execution of the FBA, whichever was later (‘commitment period’), and also allowed a grace period of 180 days.
As per the consumer, the OP unilaterally extended the time period of the delivery from 30 months in the allotment letter to 36 months in the FBA and Rs 1,19,05,546 has been paid to the OP, whereas possession was to be by April 2016, the same was offered, with a significant delay, vide letter dated November 8, 2017.
The complainant alleged that at the time the possession was offered, construction of the unit was still not complete, and several other amenities such as club house with indoor heated pool were still not constructed. ILNS/SNG/RJ