The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission bench comprising Justice Ram Surat Ram Maurya as the president and Dr. Inder Jit Singh as member directed DLF Homes Panchkula to pay to the complainant delay compensation at an interest of 6% p.a. from the committed date of possession till the date of offer of possession. The bench was hearing a batch of complainants against the DLF Homes Panchkula (OP) alleging delay in handing over possession.
The complainants submitted that they booked units in the project of the OP named ‘The Valley’. Accordingly, an Independent Floor Buyers Agreement (IFBA) was entered between the parties in the year 2011. The possession was supposed to be handed over within 24 months from the execution of the agreement. The OP also mentioned that if there will be a delay beyond 24 months, they would pay a compensation of Rs.10/- per sq. ft. per month. The promises about the same were made to the complainants by the OP. However, despite the promises and written commitments made in the independent floor buyers’ agreement. The OP failed to deliver the possession as promised and a new date of delivery of the unit was informed to the complainants whenever they visited their office. The complainants also alleged that several amenities which were promised initially by the OP have not been provided.
The OP submitted that the national forum does not have the jurisdiction to hear the complainant. They also submitted that the independent floor buyers’ agreement is binding and was signed by the party on their own accord. To solidify their submissions the OP relied upon the judgment of the Supreme Court in the cases of Bharti Knitting Co. vs. DHL Worldwide Courier , Bhubaneshwar Development Authority v Susanta Kumar Mishra and in the case of Bihar State Electricity Board, Patna and Ors. Vs. Green Rubber Industries and Ors.
It was also submitted by the OP that the complainant has waived off their right by not opting for exit policy and the complainant is not entitled for compensation as the complainant failed to show that they have suffered any loss/damage and have only made baseless averments. Hence, there is no deficiency in service or unfair trade practice on part of the OP. The delay, if any, has been caused due to force majeure conditions which were beyond the control of the OP. The delay was due to Government rules, orders, notifications etc. Hence the OP cannot be made liable for the delay or failure due to force majeure conditions.
The national commission observed that OP has contended that the construction could not be completed due to the stay imposed by the Supreme Court in 2012. In the alternative, an option was given to get back the money deposited by the complainant along with simple interest @9% per annum. It was pointed out that the complainant did not exercise such exit option and hence deemed to have accepted one year extension. The complainant argued that even if benefit of one year is given on account of this reason, still the possession was delayed from the committed date. Therefore, the bench observed that the OP is entitled for the benefit of one year from the committed date of possession as per the agreement.
The bench further noted that the contention of the OP that the national commission lacks jurisdiction is not valid as per Section 21 of the Act. The bench noted that the contention of the OP that the complainants are bound by the agreement is false. The bench referenced the Supreme Court decision in the case Pioneer Urban Land & Infrastructure Ltd. Vs. Govindan Raglivan II for the same. As regards contention of OP with respect to arbitration clause in the Agreement, it is to be noted that the remedies under the Consumer Protection Act are in addition to the remedies under special statutes.
It was also noted by the bench that even after allowing one year on account of stay by Hon’ble Supreme Court and offer of exit option, which was not exercised by the complainants, there was a delay of more than three years in offering the possession of flat by the OP.
In the light of the above, the bench directed DLF Homes Panchkula to pay to the complainant delay compensation at an interest of 6% p.a. from the committed date of possession till the date of offer of possession. They were further directed to pay Rs.25,000/- towards the cost of litigation. The payment shall be made within two months from the date of the order.
GUNJITA NIR V. DLF HOMES PANCHKULA PVT. LTD & ANR (C.C. NO. 3242 OF 2017)
NIRAJ NIR V. DLF HOMES PANCHKULA PVT. LTD & ANR (C.C. NO. 3243 OF 2017)