“By joining hands, they have shown that the cost of their flats was above Rs 1 crore to maintain their plea in NCDRC, which was against the rule," the builder's counsel said.
After hearing the arguments, the SC bench headed by Justice Misra rejected the builder’s and observed that it was the grievance of homebuyers that needs to be looked into. The court also remarked that Amrapali has taken money from buyers and neither given them possession nor is refunding their money.
The Supreme Court's Views
The SC's rejection of Amrapali Sapphire Developers' technical plea has come as a boon to middle-class flat owners, who find it easier to come together to fight rich realtors who have deep pockets and employ top lawyers to find legal loopholes to frustrate flat allottees from making claims against them. Such a broad directive can be misused also. This will adversely affect the sector, which is already facing a tough time. Multiple property buyers can hire a common property lawyer in India to file a class action against the builder for delaying the possession of flats.
Once it is accepted that a consumer complaint about delay in property possession can be filed on behalf of more than one home buyer, it can hardly be disputed that it is the aggregate value of the services which has to be taken for the purpose of determining the pecuniary jurisdiction of the consumer forum before which the complaint is filed.
Referring to the 43 flat owners' class action through an association, the NCDRC had said that if the aggregate value of services in respect of the flat buyers, on whose behalf this complaint was filed, was taken, then it exceeded Rs 1 crore and hence NCDRC has jurisdiction to entertain their plea.
Hence, the decision of the Supreme Court allowing the middle class people to join hands and file a class action suit in order to fulfil the pecuniary jurisdiction is a big relief to all such flat buyers who have not been given the possession of their property. It was long due in the interest of such people who have invested major amounts of their savings into these houses and are unfortunately yet to receive anything substantial.
In such a scenario, any and all developers are vulnerable to the misuse of this precedent which, during this difficult and transitory time for the sector increases confusion and uncertainty. The best property lawyers in India can be hired to take a legal action against the builder for causing delay in property possession.
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