State RERA chiefs against buyers going to consumer forums
Can home buyers be barred from approaching a consumer forum for delay in delivery or fault on the part of builders? Though the issue was settled when the real estate regulation law, known as RERA, was approved by the Cabinet and passed, now the regulators from different states have revived the debate demanding that home buyers be barred from approaching consumer forums, which they claimed “primarily focus on refund and compensation”.
The RERA chiefs’ stand at a recently held workshop on the implementation of the law organised by the housing ministry has surprised groups of affected home buyers and lawyers. Chairman of Madhya Pradesh RERA, Anthony de Sa, told the gathering that while the real estate regulators take care of both aspects of protecting consumers interest and also how to complete the project, consumer forums only consider protecting the interest of consumers and pass orders for refund and compensation.
Other RERA chiefs from northern states also supported this view, which have categorised as one of the “difficulties” that need to be removed for “effective implementation” of the law.
RERA chief of Gurgaon bench of Haryana’s RERA K KKhandelawl went a step further saying they don’t allow any buyer to get refund of his payment, if a project is 40-50% complete. He said the RERA bench has taken this stand considering that if they allow such refund, there will be hardly any scope of completing the project, which is also a mandate of the RERA. In such cases they have been allowing the affected party to get interest for the delay.
The RERA chairpersons have urged the housing ministry to modify the law before May 2017 taking advantage of the provision to “rectify the difficulties”. But both home buyers associations and lawyers taking up cases of flat buyers fear a design behind the RERA chiefs pushing for amendments, which may dilute the rights of consumers.
Abhay Upadhyay of Fight for RERA, the organisation that pushed for law, said, “This is unimaginable that quasi judicial authority advocates changes in the law that too within short span of just about a year from their appointment. It is clear that they are voicing their unethical opinion at the behest of builders,” it chief Abhay Updhayay said.
Officials who were engaged in the preparation of RERA recalled how there was a face off between the housing ministry and consumer affairs department. Consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan had opposed any move to snatch the right of home buyers , who have also been recognised legally as consumers, from having more option to seek relief.