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Supreme Court: Builder has to compensate RWA for handing over the incomplete project

Builders can’t get away by handing over maintenance & administration of housing society to the residents’ welfare association if the project remains unfinished without all infrastructure & facilities promised to the homebuyers & will need to compensate the RWAs, the Apex Court said.

Almost eighteen years after a builder handed over a housing project in Noida to the residents’ association, a bench of Justices Hemant Gupta & V Ramasubramanian directed the company, Padmini Infrastructure, to pay Rs 60 lakh to the Royal Garden RWA for not building a water softening plant, a second health club & a swimming pool in addition to putting in place a firefighting system.

The long legal battle reflects issues faced by residents in such societies across the country & will be a boost for homebuyers, even though more recent state RERA laws cover some of the aspects relating to defaults on promised facilities. Such disputes between RWAs & builders, some going back several years, continue to clog courts & consumer forums.

The real estate company constructed the housing project with 282 apartments & possession was given from 1998-2001. The purchasers formed an RWA & got it registered in 2003 under the Societies Registration Act. The RWA entered into an agreement on Nov 2003 with the builder for taking over maintenance of the apartment complex.

As the builder did not fulfil promises made in the agreement, the RWA approached the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which appointed a local commissioner to visit the site & file a report. On the basis of the report, NCDRC allowed the plea of the association.

A decade after entertaining the plea, the Court directed that the sum be handed over to the association & brought the 18-year-old legal fight to an end. The Court turned down the plea of the company that the association was barred by limitation to raise grievances & passed the order by accepting the report of the local commissioner.

Observing that the association was handed over maintenance of the housing society eighteen years ago, the court said it might not be possible to compel the builder to make those facilities or systems fully operational now & the interests of justice will be met if the order of the National Commission is modified in such a manner that the complainant association shall receive in full & final settlement.

The Bench stated that “The complainant shall be entitled to all told monetary compensation in a sum of Rs 60 lakh, now lying in deposit with the Registry of this court, together with the interest accrued thereon, in lieu of the reliefs sought in prayer of the complaint. The opposite party (builder) shall, within two weeks, remove all building material stored by them in the club house in the basement of Tower Eden & hand over possession of the club house to the complainant”.

Source: LatestLaws.com