The Allahabad High Court recently expressed concern over increasing number of cases being filed by home-buyers, facing hostile and arbitrary actions at the hands of builders, who often violate buyer agreement.
A Division Bench of Justices Pankaj Naqvi and Piyush Agrawal observed that home-buyers spend their hard-earned life savings to buy an apartment and instead of resolving their disputes, the concerned Development Authorities often become mute spectators.
The remarks were made while hearing a writ petition moved by a registered association of homebuyers, aggrieved by several irregularities committed by M/s Shipra Estate Limited & Jay Krishan Estates Developers Pvt. Ltd., in violation of buyer agreements vis-à-vis Shipra Sristhi Apartments.
The petition was opposed by the Respondents, who submitted that association should be directed to approach the Competent Authority under the U.P. Apartment (Promotion of Construction, Ownership and Maintenance) Act, 2010.
The said legislation was enacted to address the rise in population and demand for space in the State, especially for residential purposes.
The Court observed that the object of the Act is to give primacy to the interest of the owners of apartments and protection of their rights against arbitrary and profit oriented actions of the promoters / builders in which a role of an arbiter has been assigned to the competent authority in the Development Authority.
It observed that the issue at hand is of huge public interest and it shall be appropriate to issue a general mandamus to the Competent Authorities to dispose of the grievance of the home-buyers within a stipulated period, so as to obviate an individual home-buyer or a registered association, as the case may be, from approaching this Court time and again.
The Court ordered:
- A general mandamus is issued to the Competent Authorities under U.P. Apartment Act, 2010 & U.P. Industrial Area Development Act, 1976 or any other cognate enactment to decide the grievance of the homebuyers or their associations, positively within 3 months from the date the grievance is brought to their knowledge, by reasoned and speaking order under intimation to the aggrieved persons.
- The Competent Authority shall ensure that before any decision is taken, a right of audience is given to the parties concerned.
- The Competent Authority shall ensure that an officer not below the rank of a Gazetted Officer shall periodically visit the apartment / building at least once in 6 months at a prior notice to the registered association which shall be obliged to circulate it amongst its member so as to give them an opportunity to ventilate their grievance, if any. Any reported violation shall be immediately brought to the notice of the Authority concerned which shall immediately take remedial steps.
- Any inaction on the part of Competent Authority shall be construed as serious dereliction of duty, warranting interference from the State Government.
It clarified, the benefit of this order shall also be extended to the competent authority envisaged under U.P. Industrial Area Development Act, 1976 and other cognate enactments.
The Petitioners were represented by Senior Advocate Anoop Trivedi and Advocates Abhinav Gaur and Vibhu Rai.
Respondent- Development Authority was represented by Senior Advocate Ravi Kant assisted by Advocate Rohan Gupta.
State was represented by Standing Counsel Akhileshwar Singh.
Case Title: Shipra Sristhi Apartment v. State of UP & Ors.