Refund Payment to Homebuyer, order SC after Long Delay in Possession

The Supreme Court has upheld orders of a state consumer commission and the national commission to refund payment with interest to a homebuyer for over seven years' delay in handing over possession of the flat he had booked with a Kolkata-based builder. The court said a buyer cannot be required to wait indefinitely for possession of his house.
 
As reported by The Economic Times, homebuyer Devasis Rudra had paid Rs39.29 lakh in 2006 to the builder and as per the agreement the house was to be handed over by December 31, 2008 and there was a grace period of six months. But the house was not handed over on time.
 
In 2011, Rudra filed a complaint before state consumer commission seeking possession of the house or refund of the amount he had paid with 12 per cent annual interest. He also sought compensation of Rs20 lakh.
 
The state commission directed the developer to refund the money with interest at 12 per cent and compensation of Rs5 lakh. When the builder challenged the order in the National Commission Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), it reduced the compensation amount to Rs2 lakh while upholding the rest of the state commission's order.
 
Giving its verdict on whether the buyer was entitled to seek refund or was barred from doing so, having claimed compensation as the primary relief in the complaint, the bench said, "Even in 2011, when the buyer filed a complaint, he was ready and willing to accept possession. It would be manifestly unreasonable to construe the contract between the parties as requiring the buyer to wait indefinitely for possession."
 
The SC pronounced the verdict last Monday. Welcoming the order, an umbrella association of home buyers - Fight for RERA tweeted, "Landmark judgment from Hon'ble Supreme Court on refund to buyer from developer. Hope this will set at rest arbitrary orders being passed by RERA authorities denying refunds on their own despite #RERA provision there for refunds."

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