Expressing concern over lakhs of home buyers across the country being cheated by builders and facing uncertainty, the Supreme Court said that government cannot leave them in lurch to fight legal battle against real estate giant and it is “obliged” to intervene to protect their interest.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said that it is the obligation of the government to protect its citizens who belong to middle class family and invested their hard earned money in buying flats but got cheated by builders and facing uncertainty.
While hearing a batch of petition filed by home buyers who have been fighting legal battle against Unitech for almost three years, the bench said that the management of the group along with its 46 subsidiaries should be taken over by the Centre to get the housing projects completed.
The bench asked the Attorney General to assist the court on the issue and requested him to hold consultation with concerned department to frame a mechanism to protect the interest of buyers. “We are answerable to home buyers who are looking at us with expectation on what we are doing to protect their interest. We will ask the government to take over the management of the group. There are responsible government undertakings that will take over the group and complete the construction. The government is obliged to protect the buyers,” the court said.
The court’s order said that ownership of Amrapali group in its various housing projects would be taken away and would be handed over to Noida and Greater Noida authorities which will complete construction and hand over possession to buyers.
As thousands of cheated home buyers, who have invested in housing projects of various real estate companies, have in recent years knocked the doors of Supreme Court for protection of their investment, the court said that it was primarily government’s duty to step in to rescue them and favoured that the government should take over the management of defaulter builders to complete the housing projects.
“We are not capable of handling matters of financial affairs. We are not expert on the issue. Government should deal with these issues. We would ask government to step in to protect the interest of home buyers. The government is obliged to protect the middle class home buyers. These people have invested their hard earned money. They are paying interest on home loans but are not getting their homes. We have no solution on their plight. What can we do. We are saying so with great sense of anguish, Justice Chandrachud observed.
As per estimate, there are more than One lakh homebuyers who were duped by various builders in NCR itself in the satellite cities of Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh and many of them have approached the Supreme Court. It includes 46,000 buyers in Amrapali projects who had paid more than 11,000 crore to the group, 32,000 home buyers who paid around Rs14,000 in Jaypee project and 17,000 home buyers in 74 housing projects of Unitech which collected more than 14,000 crore from them. There are many other real estate companies who cheated the home buyers across the country and the buyers are ppursuing their case before various forums including consumer court and SC for getting possession of flats or refund of their investments.