The Execution Of Power Of Attorney Outside India And Its Use With Reference To International And Domestic Laws


A “power of attorney” is a legal instrument whereby one person gives another person the authority to act on his or her behalf as his legal representative, and to make binding legal and financial decisions on your behalf.

Important Facets of the Power Of Attorney

 

  • Legal representation
  • Limits imposed
  • Time frame
  • Scope of the draft

The present question is regarding the validity of passing of a power of attorney executed outside India. The value of a deed of power of attorney executed outside India is proven through a process called Apostallisation passed under Hague convention of 1961. Under Article 1 of the treaty:

  1. All the registry entries of a notary public and official certificates signed under the private capacity certifying registration,
  2. Notarisation and authentication of documents are treated as public documents, which are available for public inspection.

Method 1: Legalisation

 

A deed of power of attorney is framed complying with laws of both the countries involved. (In the present case USA and India) The deed is made sustainable to legal challenge by notarising it from the authorized officer in the Indian Consulate/Embassy as he is a valid notary under Indian law under section 3, Diplomatic and Consular Officers (Oaths and Fees) Act, 1948.

Once the deed is executed from the embassy, it is sent to India for registration along with all the signatures and the payment of stamp fees according to section 2(17) along with schedule I of Indian Stamp Act, 1899. Once registration is done under the adjudication of the sub-registrar, the legality of document can be proved in the court of law beyond all reasonable doubts.

Ministry of external affairs, Government of India has issued a notification L161/1/2003 In March 31st 2006 accepting the Hague convention and entering into force for India on 14th July 2006.

Method 2: Apostallisation

 

It is much simpler process but with a certain degree of doubt and suspicion surrounding it. For making a deed of power-of-attorney which is valid in India from USA, firstly a deed must be executed according to the law of the state where you are residing in. The grantor shall comply with all the legal requirements under US laws and Indian laws, so that there won’t be any difficulty in legally enforcing it in India.

The next step is to approach the U.S. Department of State Authentication Office to get an apostille stamp affixed in the document. If the deed complies with all the requirements set forth by Section 17 (b) and 33(c) of the Indian Registration Act, 1908 and Section 2, Power of Attorney Act, 1882 along with payment of required stamp duty, it shall be registered and can be considered as a valid power of attorney in India.

FAQs

 

1)      What value does the verification or attestation of a foreign notary hold in India?

Ans: According to the section 14 of the Notaries Act of 1952, if the central government is satisfied that by law or practice of any country or place outside India, the notaries act done by notaries within India are recognised for all or any limited purposes in that country or place, the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare the notarial acts lawfully done by notaries within such country or place shall be recognised within India for all purposes or, as the case may be, for such limited purposes as may be notified in the notification.

Thus it is perfectly valid.

2)      Is registration required for this deed?

Ans: Yes, registration is must for this deed of power of attorney, as under Section 17 of the Indian Registration Act, 1908 it is required that all non-testamentary instruments which purport or operate to create, declare, assign, limit or extinguish, whether in present or in future, any right, title or interest, whether vested or contingent, of the value of one hundred rupees, and upwards, to or in immoveable property, must be registered for ensuring its legal validity.

3)      Is Hague convention ratified in India?

Ans: Hague Convention is in force in India since 14th July 2006. It is upheld by an amendment in Diplomatic and Consular Officers (Fees) Rules, 1949 under Section 8 of the Diplomatic and Consular Officers (Oaths and Fees) Act, 1948 whereby the Central Government is allowed to make rules accordingly.

Section 14 of the Notaries Act of 1952 read along with the section 33(c) of TheRegistration Act, 1908 gives the discretion to the Central Government to recognise the acts of foreign notaries if found satisfactory. It will have the same effect of an act done by an Indian notary.

4)      Why there are two methods of certification?

Ans: The first method is older and lengthy, when compared to apostillisation process. The public seems to prefer the simpler method. But, in the actual practice, the newer process is no less cumbersome than the old one, as only difference is a mere change in the office where you get it done. And further adding salt to the injury in the second case, the grantor has to make sure that both the laws are complied with, whereas in the legalisation, Indian law is the only one to be complied with.

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Acts, Legislations & Rules

THE BEGINNING OF CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT “REAL ESTATE”


  • All home buyers can join a existing complaint filed

  • Judgement of the case will be binding on all the buyers

  • Only one complaint to be filed against the Builder /Developer Under Section 12.1 C as a group of buyers

  • All other complainants can  join as a group after the Public Notice is served

  • Judgement to be based on Agreement Value and not Market Value

The NCDRC have clarified its position on Section 12 (1) (c) of Consumer Protection Act 1986.  NCDRC has allowed complaints by a group of buyers under Section 12 (1) (c).

If we have to go by layman’s interpretation, all builder related cases can by filed in NCDRC, thus skipping the lower forums.

There has been a lot of confusion and ambiguity in the interpretation of complaints filed under Section 12 (1) (c). Different benches of NCDRC had a different view on this section of the Act.

This led to the matter being referred to a three-member bench of NCDRC. These three question/issues arose in front of the commission: Whether complaint under Section 12 (1) (c) filed on behalf of or for the benefit of only some the numerous buyers are maintainable or it must be filed on behalf of all consumers having a common interest.

Where complaint under this section is maintainable where the value of goods, service, compensation in respect of none of the allottees exceeds rupees one crore.

Where complaint under this section is maintainable where the value of goods, service, compensation in respect to individual allottee exceeds rupees one crore.

Where complaint under this section is maintainable where the cost of the apartment, the area of the apartments is different and the apartments were booked on different dates.

Court’s observation

Here are the key observations in full bench judgement concerning the interpretation of Section 12 (1) (c) of the Consumer Protection Act. We have tried to explain court’s order in laymen’s terms.

  •  If a complaint is against a builder under Section 12 (1) (c), i.e by an unregistered group of persons, it can be filed only on behalf of or for the benefit of all buyers who have the same interest and grievance against the builder. It cannot be filed seeking relief for the benefit of only some of the buyers.
  •  A complaint under Section 12 (1) (c) is maintainable before the NCDRC where the aggregate value of the all the apartments combined and the total compensation claimed in respect of all the buyers exceeds Rs. 1 crore. The value of each individual apartment is wholly irrelevant in such a complaint.
  • So long as the grievance of the buyers is common and an identical relief is claimed for all of them, the cost, the size, area of the flat/plot and the date of booking/allotment/purchase would be wholly immaterial. The relief claimed will be the same if for example, in a case of delay in possession, refund, or possession or in the alternate refund, with or without compensation, is claimed for all the buyers. Different reliefs for one or more consumers on whose behalf or for whose benefit the complaint is filed cannot be claimed in such a complaint.
  • The jurisdiction of the NCDRC shall be decided on the agreed sale consideration ,i.e.value at the time of booking the apartment, not the market value of the apartment. e. A cooperative society or a group of cooperative societies, firms, an association shall not be entitled to file a complaint under Section 12 (1) (c) unless the cooperative society itself is the consumer.
  • The Act does not allow more than one complaints in a representative character. The decision in one complaint filed in a representative capacity will bind all the buyers of the project. Therefore once a complaint in a representative capacity is filed under Section 12 (1) (c), and requisite permission for filing the same is given by the consumer forum, the second complaint under Section 12 (1) (c) will not be maintainable for the same project for the same relief. A second complaint, if filed, having the same interest and seeking the same relief is liable to be dismissed with liberty to seek impleadment in the complaint already instituted.
  • Since a complaint in a representative capacity shall be binding on all the buyers, an individual complaint expressing the same grievance will not be maintainable and the only recourse available to such buyer is to seek impleadment in the complaint filed in the representative capacity. However, as far as individual complaints instituted prior to grant of requisite permission under Section 12 (1) (c) is concerned, such complainants cannot be compelled to withdraw their individual complaint.
  • The consumers who are already before the consumer forum when the requisite permission in terms of Section 12 (1) (c) is accorded, will be out of purview of the representative complaint. The order passed in the representative complaint will not be binding on them.
  • However, if such persons want to withdraw their pending complaints and join the complaint instituted in the representative capacity, there is no bar on their adopting such a course of action. h. Considering the binding effect of a decision rendered under Section 12 (1) (c) on all the consumers on whose behalf such a complaint is filed, even if they choose not to join as a party to the complaint, It is necessary to exercise due care and caution while considering such a complaint while granting the requisite permission under Section 12 (1) (c).
  • It would be necessary for the bench to either give individual notices or an adequate public notice of the institution of the complaints, to all the persons on whose behalf or for whose benefit the complaint is instituted. Such a notice should disclose the subject matter of the complaint including particulars of the project, class of persons on whose behalf or for whose benefit the complaint is filed, the common grievance is sought to be addressed, the alleged deficiency in the service and the reliefs claimed.
  • It will also be necessary to hear the opposite party before taking a final view on grant of necessary permission under Section 12 (1) (c).
  • Court’s observation on existing complaints Individual complaints filed prior to the grant of requisite permission under Section 12 (1) (c) have been validly instituted and they can not be compelled to withdraw their individual complaint and compelled to become a party of subsequent complaints filed in a representative capacity. If, however, such persons want to withdraw their individual complaints and join the representative suit, they shall be allowed.
  • JUDGEMENT CAN BE FOUND BELOW ON SECTION 12 (1) (c)
    ncdrc-full-bench-judgement-on-section-12-1-c
  • Example of a similar order pass by the consumer court in Case of Nitesh Caesars Palace :-
  • The instant complaint has been filed by Shri Vishwanath Shankar and 203 other complainants as a class action alleging deficiency in service on the part of the opposite party in respect of the builder buyer agreement executed by the complainants and other consumers with respect to the development project ‘Nitesh Caesar Palace’ undertaken by the opposite party. Along with the complaint an application under Section 12 (1) (c) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 seeking permission to proceed with the complaint as a class action, has been filed. The application is opposed on the ground that even among 204 complainants there are different groups of complainants having different interest.

    We have heard the parties and perused the record. On careful perusal of the complaint we find that in para-1 the complainants have specifically mentioned that they wish to proceed with the complaint as a class action on behalf of themselves and other similarly placed consumers having the same interest and even in the prayer clause the complainants have sought similarly relief for all other consumers who are not party to the complaint. Therefore, in our view the complaint fits within the parameters of Section 12 (1) (c) of the Act. Accordingly, we grant permission under Section 12 (1) (c) of the Act to the complainants to proceed with the complaint as class action. As this is a class action complaint, issue public notice under Order 1 Rule 8 CPC in Deccan Herald (English) and Vijaya (Karnataka).

NCPBA is now registered


NCPBNCPBA is now registered and board objective will be –
1. To get the speedy delivery of NCP
2. To get compensation for Delay of project
3. To get Maintenance agreement for 2 years
NCPBA has already decided to go legal against NEL and we request all other members who are not registered to be part of NCPBA and provide the below mentioned documents to make our case more stronger –
1. Sale Agreement with NEL for their individual flat
2. Construction Agreement with NEL for their individual flat
3. Payment statement ( payment made to NEL, whether through bank loan or personally) 
NEL has already made lot of irregularities even in the Registered sale deed of the flat owners who have registered their flats.Hence , we request all flat owner to come forward and give strength to fight this injustice.We already have few members who have provided all the above documents to us , so we  request other members as well to join hands together and fight against NEL.
NCPBA Committee 

Magic Bricks Now – Questions by Mr.Vishwanath – Nitesh Caesars Palace


Lawyers suggestion key points:
  1. Buyers association either registered or unregistered can represent the case. However, registration would give more benefits so  the builder is forced to talk to one identify who represents buyers benefit. Builder will naturally respond / negotiate once an association is formed.
  2. Registration can be done before Occupancy Certificate (OC)  but need to get the sale deed clearly checked line by line, by lawyer on this channel showed his suspicion of only 2 blocks ready out of 8 blocks: chances of many issues. Registration agreement needs clear scanning by lawyer to avoid future mistakes as the project isn’t complete.Buyer can register the property but do not tie registration to OC as that will clear all the uncertainty of owning the flat.
  3. Possession without OC is at builders cost. Builder is liable to bear all cost such as taxes, power, maintenance etc. Buyer can take possession if builder is giving alternate power but should be at his cost not owners.
  4. Maintenance agreement: There is no legal binding to sign any maintenance agreement during registration you can deny as it is one sided. Strictly No to maintenance agreement of 10 yrs..Builder cannot enforce this for signing. Demanding 1 year maintenance cost in advance is ok. Maintenance payments to be in the name of different or specific bank account. Need not pay more than 1 year.
  5. Arbitration clause is not applicable for filing case in consumer court. There is only consumer court for this issue and can be through association and effective through association rather individual. Interim relief for completion of amenities/services can be claimed at consumer forum.

Social media activism against builders and defamation suits


One of the good thing that has happened to Real Estate market in the recent past is online presense of both Home Buyers And Developers. While home buyers have been actively using social media and forums before making property related decisions, builders are using similar platforms to advertise and reach out to prospective buyers.

Understanding the potential of social media, most of the big developers started reaching out to young professionals through online platforms. From creating dedicated project pages on Facebook to twitter handles and uploading 3D videos of sample flats on youtube channels became the new fashion. A big chunk of marketing budget was being spent through PR agencies to increase online presence and trap as many buyers as they can.

After 6 years, the very same social media users are hitting back. Social media platform like Facebook, Whatsapp and twitter have come to the rescue of home buyers and have played a major role in homebuyers fight against injustice and unfair practices.

Social Media Activism

There is no denial that builders have exploited homebuyer in this country since the inception of group housing. Even the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi said:

“In our country, wittingly or unwittingly, the image of builder lobby is bad.

Prior to social media, It was very difficult for the home buyers to join hands and raise their collective voice against the unfair treatment by builders. Most of the time individuals were cornered, threatened and coerced to give up their rights.

However, all of this have changed now. Angry home buyers are no longer hiding or afraid to take on the might of developers for delaying the delivery of apartments and villas and changing building plans. They are banding together to fight for their homes using all the means at their disposal, including staging unique protests at project sites and going to court.

Most of the buyers groups have online Facebook or Whatsapp groups to easily highlight the wrongdoing of builders. In the past, most of the home buyers groups have managed to stop lot of wrongdoings of the developers and have been able to give them sleepless nights. In one of the Noida builder’s project, more than 300 home buyers got together on Facebook and filed a case of deficiency in service in NCDRC. There are host of buyer’s association who are bringing in people together in ensuring they are not cheated anymore.

SLAPP / Defamation Suits

Builder don’t like to answer a crowd as they find it easy to coerce individuals. Home buyers group have been a nightmare for them for obvious reasons. Because they find it difficult to mend their ways and do business in ethical way, they engage in something called Disreputation Management. Disreputation management is the practice of ensuring the content that a builder ddoesn’t’t like, should be removed from the web. Most of the content is usually some home buyer unearthing illegal practices of a developer.

So, to deal with the social media activism, builders have started filing a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit with the intention to silence, censor, and intimidate buyers concerned with ‘deficiency in service’ and ‘unfair trade practices.  Builders alleged that social media groups have damaged their standing and reduced business opportunities. By filing such cases, they seek crores in damages for loss of reputation and business from home buyers.

What should a Home Buyer do

Buyers are finding comfort in unity and there is no harm in being united. Social media is a great tool to ensure errant developers are brought to the task. While it is good to raise a collective voice and fight for your rights, there are few measures that home buyers and Group Admins must take to ensure builder does not engage them in defamation suits.

  • One should be factual about the content. Ensure if you are accusing builder of some wrongdoing, you have content to back your claims.
  • There is no harm in criticism but do not abuse anyone on the forums.
  • Use RTI to know the facts before alleging someone of corrupt practices.
  • Avoid posting information received from word of mouth.

Individuals should be careful while posting forward contents. After recent Nepal Earthquake,  pictures of an apartment complex labelled as noida society were doing rounds. Builder had to issue a clarification because it did not belong to their project and it was a complex in Nepal.

Should you be afraid? 

Builder’s aim by filing defamation suits is to silence the home buyers voice. If you have raised your voice against wrongdoings of the builder, there is no reason to be afraid of. Home buyers have taken a tough stand against such practices of the builder and are fighting such cases in various court. Some of the home buyers have given it back to builder’s by filing cases of deficiency in services in appropriate courts.

Legal View: 

Sahil Sethi, a lawyer defending home buyers in defamation cases says, ” it’s important to ensure that all comments made on social media complaining about a developer are fair, even if not absolutely factually correct.  Buyers should also refrain from calling names or hurling abuse on social media.”

The Logical Buyer suggests that home buyers should not bow down to such threats from builders and continue their fight against wrong practices. At the same time, one must act responsibly and should not indulge in unwarranted accusations. Home buyers association must ensure they stand by those who take the lead and raise their voice against builders.

Read more details:http://www.thelogicalbuyer.com/social-media-activism-against-builders-and-defamation-suits/

Remedy for Project Delays


Will the prices of real estate come down? Should you be buying commercial property? Is the government’s negligence of roads and potholes impacting the price of your property investment? Watch incisive debates on Burning issues of the Day. Listen to the biggest voices in the Business, Government and urban planning only on ‘The Urban Debate’.

How you can make builders complete projects or compensate for delays


Builders always like to be in the news. When they are not selling flats, they are busy buying polo teams or sponsoring cricket tournaments. While the reason for being in the limelight may have differed over the years, today it’s the same for most developers, and it’s the wrong one, delayed projects.

Most builders are sitting on projects that are long overdue and many are unlikely to hand over the keys in a hurry to the house that you may have already paid for. According to industry estimates, at least a third of residential projects is facing execution delays.

The reasons vary from lack of demand and paucity of funds for the developer to delay in getting regulatory approvals. According to a recent study by property research firm PropEquity, almost 45% of the projects launched between January 2007 and June 2009 in the three biggest property markets (Delhi/ NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore) are facing significant execution delays. PropEquity surveyed 1,920 projects that were scheduled to be completed by January 2012 ( see graphic below ).

When Delhi-based retired Air Commodore DVS Trehan booked a 2,400 sq ft apartment in November 2007 in Noida, he was looking forward to moving in by early 2010, as promised by the builder. But even after four years of paying the entire sum, the developer seems in no hurry to hand over the possession of Trehan’s house.

“I had sold my earlier flat and pooled in my retirement money to purchase this house. The company was to hand over the possession by January 2010, but even by late 2009, they had not begun any construction activity on the proposed site,” he says.

Trehan’s repeated queries and visits to the developer’s office were met with empty promises. “The office staff would fob me off with stories that they have the latest technology, which would enable them to complete building the structure in just six months,” he adds.

Trehan is not alone. There are countless such cases where buyers are still waiting for their homes and have not received a single rupee as compensation from the builder. The wait has been particularly tough for those whose EMI clock has begun ticking.

However, the situation is unlikely to become better any time soon as builders continue to face a funding crunch and the demand for property across most cities remains weak. With inflation continuing to be above the central bank’s comfort level, any action on the home loan front is also likely to be gradual.

photo (1)

Even developers are beginning to realise the severity of the problem. For, after endless claims that projects get delayed because of factors beyond their control, they are now considering it as a serious issue knowing that they cannot brush it aside by shunning responsibility. So an industry body has come up with a code of conduct for its 6,000 members to ‘maintain the honour and dignity of developers, promoters and builders’.

The move is being lauded in industry circles as long overdue, but its effectiveness in curbing the menace is being questioned. “What can it do? At most, it can cancel my membership of the association.

Even developers are beginning to realise the severity of the problem. For, after endless claims that projects get delayed because of factors beyond their control, they are now considering it as a serious issue knowing that they cannot brush it aside by shunning responsibility. So an industry body has come up with a code of conduct for its 6,000 members to ‘maintain the honour and dignity of developers, promoters and builders’.

The move is being lauded in industry circles as long overdue, but its effectiveness in curbing the menace is being questioned. “What can it do? At most, it can cancel my membership of the association,” says a developer, whose two projects have been delayed in the National Capital Region.

What are your options?

This is not to say that the code of conduct may not be of much use. Perhaps it will make an impact on the way the developers treat complaints from buyers, but that is still a long way off. The point is, as an aggrieved buyer, you should not wait for either the builder to take the code seriously or fast-track the execution of his project just because he has to follow a code. In the following pages we tell you what your options are while taking on the builders to demand what is rightfully yours, and also how individuals and groups are doing it across the country.

Forming a group

This is a recent inclusion, and as some home buyers have discovered, can sometimes yield good results. This is the route Trehan decided to take when the developer was non-committal and non-responsive. He joined hands with other fellow buyers in the same project and took legal recourse to get their grievance redressed.

“The idea of creating an association germinated from our experiences so that we could present a joint front to deal with the developer,” he says. Legal experts are also of the opinion that it is better to have a joint front to get your demands across. Ravi Goenka, advocate at Goenka Law Associates, explains that other than cutting costs there is a better chance of getting justice faster while putting up a common front.

The process of starting a consumer group, according to Goenka, is very easy and it can be started with just two people, unlike a public company, which needs at least seven people to register. It is also necessary to register your association to add legitimacy. If one is unsure about the legalities, one can approach a lawyer. The total cost, including the lawyer’s fee, would work out to anywhere between Rs 3,000 and Rs 8,000 and the entire process would take 15-20 days.

To register the association, the members would have to submit their residence proof, PAN details and a copy of the bylaws of the association. These are basically the objectives for which the association has been formed.

They would include the format for inclusion and exit of members, the annual membership charge, the duties and responsibilities of the executive board in the association, the frequency of the meetings and the various committees in the association. The body can then select an auditor to keep a check on its books of accounts and can delegate specific duties to its members.

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But how does one accumulate the members? One way to form aggrieved buyers’ groups is by meeting at the project construction site. Harsh Sehgal, president of the DLF Park Place Residents Welfare Association, got a list of all the other buyers in the project by visiting the construction site regularly. “Fighting a legal battle is a costly affair and putting up a joint front helps in cutting costs,” says Sehgal.

The easiest way to get started, of course, is to take the online option. Forming a community on social networking websites like Facebook is easy. That’s how Abhay Upadhyay, who is the president of the Kolkata West International City Buyers’ Welfare Association, managed to join forces with other buyers in his battle against the builders.

“After we got some members, we began exchanging mails and appraising others about the latest developments in the project. Forming the association was the next step after we realised that the developer was not taking serious note of individual grievances,” he says.

One advantage that an informal forum like the Internet offers is that you can start looking at a project delay really early and not wait for it to miss the promised final date of completion. The trick is to be aware and keep visiting the project frequently to see the progress of construction.

If it is behind schedule and you post a comment on the Net, you most certainly will have a group when the project is delayed and this will offer a good bargain opportunity. Here’s how you can leverage the power of the Internet to get people together and fight for a common cause.

Dedicated websites: If you are considering the purchase of an apartment, all it takes is the click of a mouse to access feedback from buyers on the developer or the project. Websites like complaints.com or mouthshut.com offer such platforms. The opinions, posted freely, make it imperative for the companies in a competitive market to respond to the complaints.

The project: DLF Park Place, Gurgaon

The group: 200 flat owners, led by Harsh Sehgal (centre), President, DLF Park Place Resident Welfare Association

The problem: The home owners booked the apartments in the project in 2006 and were promised possession in three years. They are still waiting for it.

The buyers’ response: The grouping of buyers happened gradually since there was no list, making it difficult to contact other allottees.

Eventually, seven owners came together and formed an association, and when it was formally registered, many others joined it.

The builder’s reaction: Repeated requests for meetings and resolution of the issues were met with disdain. The letters to the management received no response.

However, while the Internet opens up new avenues, it doesn’t come with any assurances of redressal. Do not expect results within a few days just because you have posted your complaint. Though the process starts with one complainant, a random check on the Net about your particular grievance will give you an idea whether other people are also affected and provide information about the right forum to join.

An important point to remember is that you also need to back up the online campaign with offline efforts. As the number of online groups grows, you will have to think of newer ways to force the developer to sit up and take notice.

Taking legal recourse: Most buyers hesitate to explore the legal option because of the cost and delays in pursuing long-drawn cases. However, some recent judgements that have gone in favour of buyers should enthuse them . Such decisions are on a case-to-case basis, and though these help, you will have to go through the same process again.

In case of consumer courts, the cost is minimal and you can represent the case yourself. In fact, you can also take builders to court for high-handed and rough behaviour of their employees or for changing the project specifications midway during construction and after taking deposits.

If you have a grievance against the builder, send a notice to him in writing. Do not worry if he refuses to accept your notice. The proof of sending is valid in the consumer court and will be declared thus since the notice has been duly served.

An important aspect to keep in mind is that the promise to deliver a good or service must be made in writing, it can be a brochure or even a printout of a Web page of the company’s site. This should be preserved carefully because it will be your only proof to show what the company had promised.

You also have the option of taking your problems to a consumer organization, which can then take up your cause against the builder. Approaching the local authorities can sometimes drive a developer to be more proactive. For instance, when DLF came out with full-page advertisements on 26 April 2009 in Bangalore, announcing the opening of bookings for its Westend Heights project, some potential buyers approached the municipal corporation to check if the developer had relevant permissions.

When a notice was sent by the municipal authorities to the developer, it accepted that it was only “in the process of taking sanctions”. On 6 May, the corporation also came out with a public notice, stating that the investors could obtain information free of cost regarding the approved sanction plans, and anyone who planned to buy property in the city could avail of the facility and satisfy himself regarding permissions.

If you are lucky, the pressure that you build as a group will take you a long way in addressing your concerns. If not, the legal option is always open, and as a group, you stand a better chance of winning it.

The bottom line: when it comes to project delays, there are no fixed rules and you’ll have to fight it out with the builder in most cases. But if you do your homework well, you can put up a good fight.

 The problem: The builder was supposed to hand over the possession in 2010, but the project is yet to be completed. The compensation for the delay is payable only at the time of taking possession. The possession letters were issued even though the basic infrastructure, such as approach roads, parks and promised facilities, were not in place. Besides, the maintenance charges are high at Rs 4.20 per sq ft with three years’ advance payment.

The buyers’ response: The home owners started by taking down names and contact details of other buyers from the visitors’ register at the site.

 They formed a group on Yahoo and Google and started contacting other buyers through group mails, eventually forming an association. Nearly 140 members joined the first membership drive and more than 45 in the second drive.

The builder’s reaction: The builder’s attitude changed once the association was formed. The maintenance charges were reduced to Rs 1.75 per sq ft with only two years’ advance payment, while the club charges were withdrawn. Within four days of the first dharna by the association on 2 June 2011, all allottees received a mail from the builder saying that Punj Lloyd had been appointed and construction would start from 15 July. The builder also offered individual deals in order to disintegrate the group.

The current status: The association has filed two legal cases. The first case was filed before the Competition Commission of India in September 2011 and the order is awaited. Another writ petition has been filed by a buyer in the Calcutta High Court. The court has asked KMDA and the KWIC to file affidavits.

The rulings you can cite

Courts and consumer forums have often ruled in favor of the home buyer. Go through this list to figure out where your case fits in because it is easier to convince a panel if you can cite precedence.

Supreme Court verdicts

1) Housing construction is a service under the Consumer Protection Act

In 1993, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of MK Gupta in his case against the Lucknow Development Authority for not delivering his flat on time. This landmark judgment brought housing construction under the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

The Supreme Court ruled that “the purpose of widening the definition (of service) is to include in it not only the day-to-day buying and selling activity undertaken by a common man, but even activities that are otherwise not commercial in nature, yet partake of a character in which some benefit is conferred on the consumer… Similarly, when a statutory authority develops a land, allots a site, or constructs a house for the benefit of a common man, it is considered a ‘service’ similar to that by a builder or contractor.

When possession of the property is not given within the stipulated period, the delay is denial of service. Such disputes or claims are not with respect to immovable property but ‘deficiency in rendering of service’ of a particular standard, quality or grade. A person who applies for allotment of a building site, or flat constructed by the development authority, or entered into an agreement with a builder or contractor is a potential user and the nature of construction is covered in the expression service of any description”.

2) Interest has to be paid for delay in possession

 In the Ghaziabad Development Authority vs Balbir Singh, 2005 CTJ 124, the apex court observed: “Normally, a case of delivery of possession, though belatedly, stands on a different footing from non-delivery of possession, because in case of the former, the allottee also enjoys the benefit of a plot/flat. In such a situation, the rate of interest should not exceed 12%. In a specific case, where it is found that the delay was culpable and there is no contributory negligence by the allottee resulting in harassment/injury, both mental and physical, the forum/commission would not be precluded from making an award in excess of 12% per annum.”

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission cases

1) Buyer is entitled to opt out of a project if there is a delay in delivery

A buyer can opt out of a housing project if there is a delay in delivery of possession by the developer, says the National Consumer Commission. It has also said that the buyer is entitled to a refund of the entire money with reasonable interest, and any deduction by the builder is unjustified. The commission passed the order on a petition of Agra resident Indira Gupta, seeking a quashing of the Uttar Pradesh State Commission direction to deduct 20% from the amount to be refunded by the Agra Development Authority.

2) Buyer can withhold payment if construction does not proceed

 In the Ansal Housing vs Renu Mahendr case (revision petition no. 1218 OF 2006), the commission held: “If the company has not apprised the respondent about the status of the project, which in fact was associated with payments to be made by the respondent, then the respondent having withheld the payment was not at fault. The company, while making all these communications, had been insisting that the respondent release the payment, but it did not adhere to the terms of the allotment letter, letting the respondent know about the progress of the construction of the project.”

3) Buyer can move a court despite what is said in the sale agreement

In the Neha Singhal vs Unitech case (first appeal no. 426 of 2010) the commission held: “To emphasise, the clause relating to jurisdiction of courts in the agreement between the parties cannot by itself override the statutory right of the appellant/ complainant conferred by the above-mentioned provision of the Act, that would defeat the purpose and object of the Act. This view is also in accordance with the provisions of Section 28 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872

 

Article Published on:

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-04-09/news/31312910_1_execution-delays-builders-residential-projects