PUNE: The state consumer disputes redressal commission has imposed Rs 25,000 cost on a prominent builder here while dismissing his appeals against a July 16, 2014 order by the Pune district consumer disputes redressal forum that directed the builder to pay Rs 2 lakh each as compensation to three buyers of flats for deficient service.
A two-member bench of the commission, comprising presiding member P B Joshi and judicial member S A Kulkarni, held in an order on April 13 that there was no substance in the defence taken by the appellants - Kumar Builders proprietor Lalitkumar Jain and six others (land owners) - and that there was a clear case of deficiency in service in not providing the amenities to the complainants, as agreed. The commission directed Rs 25,000 cost to be jointly paid to the three complainants, including Shekhar S Kashalkar, Kalyani T Deshpande and Narendra V Parkhi.
The matter relates to 'Kumar Atman' scheme behind Hotel Mahabaleshwar at Baner, developed by Kumar Builders by way of an agreement with six land owners. Two buildings 'A' and 'C' wings, comprising 36 flats, were built with an open space in between these two buildings. The builder had impressed upon the flat buyers that this open space was reserved for various amenities. However, the residents realised later about the builder's plan to construct a third building 'B' on this open space. They moved a city civil court which has since ordered a temporary injunction on the proposed construction.
In their complaints before the district forum, the three buyers had alleged that the builder had not provided certain facilities that were mentioned in the agreement. Apart from seeking damages, they sought the forum's direction to the builder to form a registered cooperative housing society, to execute a deed of conveyance in favour of such housing society, to obtain completion certificate and occupancy certificate and to remove defects, shortcomings and lacunae in construction of flats and buildings.
Lawyers for Kumar Builders had argued the builder had applied for revalidation of the plan and the Pune Municipal Corporation had objected the developer's proposal. They argued that the complainants had approached the civil court by filing a special civil suit against the builder, therefore, the complaints were not maintainable before the forum and were liable to be dismissed.
After going through the rival pleadings and evidence led by the parties, the district forum partly allowed the complaints by holding the builder liable for deficiency in service and directed Rs 2 lakh each as compensation to the three complainants and issued other directions that were prayed for. The appellants moved the commission against this order.
The builder's lawyer furnished a copy of the civil court's temporary injunction order to the commission and pointed out that the new building 'B' wing was to be constructed in between 'A' and 'C' wings and the completion and occupancy certificates can be obtained only after this construction, which was held up in view of the injunction order.
Lawyer Ajit Kulkarni, who appeared for the complainants, argued that there was no question of constructing 'B' wing as the purchase agreement between the buyers and the builder mention of only two buildings which stand completed. The open space was meant for different amenities to the flat buyers. Kulkarni cited relevant portions in the agreement that mentioned construction of two multi-storied buildings.
The commission held: "It is material to note that the appellants failed to show from the agreements between the parties that, in fact, three buildings were to be constructed. On the other hand, as referred by us above, there is a specific mention of only two multi-storied buildings and those have been constructed. Thus, there is no question of construction of a third building in between building Wing 'A' and Wing 'C'. Open space between these two buildings is to be used for different amenities as mentioned in the deal."
When contacted, Kumar Builders' lawyers Rahul S Gandhi and Madhu Goyal said: "The option of challenging the state commission's order before the National commission remains. Our client will take a further call on this issue." Lalitkumar Jain could not be contacted.
Complainants' lawyer Kulkarni said: "The district forum had directed Kumar Builders to register the housing society for the scheme, but the same was not done. The residents eventually have got the society registered with the cooperation department on the basis of builders' non-cooperation as they had started getting property tax bills which were three times than what was expected. Also, in absence of society, they were not able to execute the conveyance deed. For the forum's other directions, we have initiated an execution proceeding against the builder."