Now, going by the assumption that the RERA comes into actual force and the Authority and Appellate Authority are duly constituted and working, what will be a better remedy for a real estate home buyer? To approach the National Consumer Commission i.e. NCDRC or the Authority under RERA? For the sake of convenience, let me take the liberty to draw a legal comparison between the two as follows:
1. Jurisdiction (Where to file the case)
- NCDRC - For making a complaint to a consumer court, the home buyer will have to determine the pecuniary jurisdiction and file the case depending upon the subject matter and compensation claimed. For this, the home buyer can consult the best property advocates in India . For instance, One can approach directly NCDRC in case the value of his subject matter and compensation claimed is above 1 crore. Also, after the recent judgments of the NCDRC, even a group of buyers can jointly file a complaint before NCDRC and their cumulative claim will determine the pecuniary jurisdiction of the NCDRC. Therefore, now even a home buyer who has purchased a property worth 10 lacs can approach directly NCDRC in case he along with other buyers (who are together filing a case under Section 12 (1) (c) ) in total cross the benchmark figure of 1 crore.
- RERA - A home buyer can file the complaint with the Authority of the State where the property is situated.
2. Appeal (After the verdict, where will the appeal lie)
- NCDRC : After the verdict from the NCDRC (which is the highest consumer court), the only court of appeal for the parties is the Supreme Court.
- RERA : After the adjudication of the dispute by the Authority under RERA, an appeal will lie to the Appellate Authority, after Appellate Authority to the High Court (of the State where the property is situated) and then finally to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, under RERA there is the only strict time frame for deciding a matter for the Appellate Authority i.e. 60 days. Whereas, there is no time frame for the Authority to decide on a complaint filed before it.
3. Projects which have been delivered and the Ongoing projects
- NCDRC : One can still approach the NCDRC or other subordinate consumer courts for the unit/flat/apartment which has been delivered by the Builder but has any deficiency or other defects. Even since RERA has been diluted under the Rules by some states, home buyers for the on-going projects where the builder has obtained part completion certificate and are outside the purview of RERA, there the aggrieved home buyers can still approach the NCDRC or other subordinate consumer courts.
- RERA : The projects where the completion and occupation certificates are granted are outside the purview of RERA. Even since RERA has been diluted under the Rules by some states, home buyers for the on-going projects where the builder has obtained part completion certificate will be outside the purview of RERA.
4. Other Legal remedies during the pendency
- NCDRC : In case a person has approached NCDRC or other subordinate consumer courts for relief, there is no bar to approaching appropriate authority or initiating criminal proceedings against the Builder.
- RERA : The Rules for most states, specifically take an undertaking from the Complainant at the time of making a complaint to the Authority under RERA, that the home buyer has not made any other complaint. This clearly restricts the right of the home buyer to claim relief.
5. Complainant not pending with any other court , etc.
The complainant further declares that the matter regarding which this complaint has been made is not pending before any court of law or any other authority or any other tribunal(s).” FORM ‘CRA’ [See rule 28 (1)].
Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) no doubt is a much-awaited legislation and will definitely bring transparency and accountability in the real estate sector but only time will tell how far the dispute resolution mechanism in RERA is going to be successful. Till that time aggrieved home buyers should consider approaching the NCDRC or other appropriate forums for redressal of their grievance.
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