The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Damages for realtor torment
- Consumer body ruling in favour of flat purchasers

A woman in north Calcutta had purchased a flat in the city from a private builder for more than Rs 7 lakh. It was only after getting possession of the flat that she discovered the floor area was 150 sq ft less than what had been specified in the agreement.

She filed a case against the promoter with the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. The commission, in a recent case, had directed a realtor to pay damages of Rs 3 lakh to the purchasers for not handing over possession of flats, setting a benchmark for similar cases in the state.

A man and two others had purchased flats from the realtor in Naktala. But even after paying their dues, they failed to obtain possession of the flats. The three initiated a case at the consumer redressal commission, and ultimately, the court passed a judgment in their favour.

'Opponent parties are hereby directed to refund the money which was paid by the (three) petitioners, along with interest at the rate of eight per cent and a compensation of Rs 1 lakh,' the judgment in their favour had stated.

The realtor had made a plea of limitation, as the case was initiated in 1998, whereas the agreement with the aggrieved parties was dated March 21, 1992. However, commission president Moloy Basu said realtors cannot shield themselves with the limitation rule.

'The cause of action is a continuing concept till one is discharging his liability and limitation will be recommended only from the date of cause of action,' Basu explained.

He added that in similar cases, where purchasers are being harassed by realtors, the forum will give similar directives. 'The realtors must not take people for a ride and we will ensure that,' Basu said.

Recently, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, too, had passed a similar judgment in the hearing of a revision petition filed by Juliet V. Quadros after the Karnataka State Commission dismissed the petition.

Malti Kumar had filed a case before the district forum, claiming that she had paid Rs 1.21 lakh for a flat, against the total price of Rs 1.92 lakh, but had not been given its possession. The forum directed Quadros to refund the money, along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum.

Quadros then filed a petition at the state commission, citing limitation rules, but it was dismissed.

The West Bengal commission has more than 100 pending cases relating to handover of flats, apart from non-registration and non-refund of money by realtors upon breach of agreement.

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