By Muddassar Bagadia
Accommodation Times News Services
In adjunct to the previous article on “How to file a consumer complaint against the delay in possession of projects”. Some insights relating to complaints against the builders, individuals within the definition and purview of consumers, Additional grounds on which a consumer can effectively maintain a complaint, Other Additional authorities apart from statutory bodies to whom consumers can address a complaint, Time limits to lodge a complaint, and Other factors relating to consumer complaints against builders are enumerated below in this write up. Where can one file a complaint? As stated earlier, a complaint may be preferred to the statutory bodies namely; National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, or a District Forum under consumer protection act 1986, as per the pecuniary limits of their jurisdiction. These forums or commissions are entitled to entertain a complaint depending on the valuation of goods or services and compensation claimed if within its pecuniary limits. However, in the first instance, if one is hesitant to approach these aforesaid statutory authorities, a grievance may also be otherwise addressed to the private regulatory bodies, such as, CREDAI (Confederation Of Real Estate Developers Association Of India) which regulates the conduct of real estate developers in India. In such a case a builder has to be a member of the association. In order to know, whether a builder is the member of the association, a member directory search on said association’s website can invariably be made, and further if the builder being found the member, a grievance may be preferred to the consumer grievance redressal forum of the said association online at http://credai.org/complaint/register-your-complaint/add, For the procedure of complaint please visit the above-given URL. Furthermore, if a builder, not a member of the said association, one can even approach National Consumer Helpline (1800-11-4000) or CORE (www.core.nic.in), who are the consumer protection associations. A complaint may also be lodged at a Legal Metrology department in Maharashtra, formed under Legal Metrology act, 2009. This department may be contacted when the flat buyers are shortchanged by the builders and have not been provided the right area to consumers in terms of measurement and sale of usable area. A person sidestepped by a developer in terms of area or dimension of the property can make an application to the authorized officer to measure it and take legal action against the defaulting builder. Alternatively, the consumer may also file a complaint against the unfair practices of the builders before the Competition Commission of India, which has been empowered to investigate into anticompetitive practices of the business organizations. Of above all, the complaint to consumer forum has been resorted to in most of the cases. Grounds on which a complaint may be preferred: A consumer complaint may be lodged against the builders in the event of, breach of conditions by the builder or in the event of any deficient service provided as opposed to the promised ones to the property buyer, a consumer. The complaint may be for one or several other reasons such as – ? Claim for interest on capital investment and compensation with regard to delayed or defective possession. ? For not following the standard measures and less measure of an area provided than promised. ? For wrongful demand of money. ? For the builders keeping consumers in dark about the matters related to their flat premises purchased, and demanding illegal consideration. ? Unfair trade practices deployed by the builders. ? For not executing the relevant sale agreement despite builder having received substantial consideration or full consideration. ? Refusal by builder to continue to pay compensation for alternate accommodation in the case of re-development, ? For the claim to refuse to take up the flat if not built in time and demand return of money along with interest. ? For the builder acting contrary to any express promise made, and on such other grounds which prejudices the rights and interest of the buyers, and on any other such grounds. Who can file a complaint under consumer protection act 1986: A consumer as defined under clause (b) of section 2 of the act, or any voluntary consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956, or under any law for the time being in force, or the Central Government, or any State Government, or where there are one or more consumers having the same interest, then a complaint by such consumers. However, in addition to above, the below-given class of persons can also effectively maintain a complaint under the act. ? Legal representative of the deceased consumer: The consumer protection act does not expressly indicate the inclusion of the legal representative of a consumer, however by operation of law, the legal representatives get clothed with the rights, status and personality of the deceased. Thus the expression, a consumer would include a legal representative of the deceased consumer and he can exercise his right for the purpose of enforcing the cause of action which has devolved on him, held in “Cosmopolitan Hospital v. Smt. Vasantha P. Nair (1) 1992 CPJ NC 302”. ? Legal heirs of the deceased consumer: A legal heir of the deceased consumer can well maintain a complaint under the consumer protection act, held in the case of “Joseph Alias Animon v. Dr. Elizabeth Zachariah (1) 1997 CPJ 96”. ? Relative of consumer: When a consumer signs the original complaint, it can be initiated by his/her Relative, held in “Motibai Dalvi Hospital v. M.I. Govilkar 1992 (1) CPR 408”. Limitation for filing the legal proceedings: The period of filing a complaint under section 24A of the consumer protection act 1986 has to be made within a period of 2 years from the date on which the cause of action has arisen. Difficulties could arise in ascertaining the date on which cause of action has arisen, thus in the case of delayed possession, National commission, in a recent case of “Ravi developers and its partners V/s Jayantibhai Ranka & Anr case, held that the cause of action would continue either till allotment of the site, or refund of money on refusal to allot. A great relief for those flat buyers who having failed to file the complaint within the stipulated period can now take action against builders even after two years have elapsed from the promised date of possession.