In the matter of:
Sh. Anil Kumar Jain and another
DLF Home Developers Ltd.,
ORDER by New Delhi Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum – Sept 2012
The complainants in each case mentioned above, made an application to OP for allotment of a dwelling unit in its advertised future project “Express Green” at Manesar, Gurgaon. It was made clear to the registrants that the approval for the projects were yet to come in. He deposited Rs.5 lakh as initial booking amount on 27.8.2008. The provisionally intimated on 2.09.08 that apartment N.M1A 022 was provisionally allotted, which was further subject to execution of Apartment Buyer Agreement. The complainant after 1 year came to know that approval and sanctions for the Project were still not received by it, for raising construction as promised, as all leading banks had also refused loan for this project for want of various approvals. The OP without waiting for approvals and without winning the confidence of consumers for further waiting and addressing their genuine concerns and apprehensions and without entering into formal agreement started demanding 2nd ,3rd ND 4th installments as stated in para 10 of the complainant. The complainant gave letters repeatedly seeking status of project, op sought more time on one or other pretexts, also offered exit option but did not act on it and thereafter complainant gave notice of termination of his booking in these circumstances and sought refund on 6.4.2009. The OP allegedly wrote an e-mail that it would try to first re-trade the property within 6 months and even if it was not possible , it would refund the amount. On 15th May 2009, OP sent a letter informing of cancellation of booking and forfeiting of Rs.5 lakh deposited describing it as earnest money though no agreement existed still as approvals were still wanting. This has led to filing of complaint here.
We have considered the vast reply filed by OP based on numerous preliminary objections and relying on various clauses of its standard agreement forgetting that the thtoere existed no agreement till then . It did not give its version on allegations of demanding installments without having obtained approvals and sanctions and failing of project. The Consumer Act does not permit any thing else by way of objections in law , except it s version on the complaint of consumer. The questions of limitation and jurisdiction are to be considered by the Form itself. The reply of OP is replete with all kind of pleadings which are neither here nor there, and neither assist the Forum nor answer the case of consumer. It has thrown all fair practices in the business of OP to winds , only to somehow pocket the money deposited on the basis of its advertisements and pre-printed application forms. Firstly, it acted unfairly and illegally in inviting booking when the project was not still approved, it proceeded to raise false hopes by promising specific provisional allotment of specific flats in air, and went to the extent of collecting further installments, without firming up its legal status of the project. We have extensively heard its lawyers, who do not answer material question but parrot out the pleadings as in a moot court. We do not find any case for proceeding with cancellations or to talk or earnest money or installments to create a façade of mutual obligations and giving rights to OP. There existed no land to build with it to build dwellings or dream houses. The substratum of agreements or provisional booking never existed.
We have considered the numerous correspondence between the parties, letters and e-mails and other material on record. We have no hesitation in holding OP on the wrong side of law and fair practices. It should have returned the booking amount on demand with 6% interest as was made clear to allottees at the time of inviting applications. That opportunity is now lost. OP has forced litigations on consumer for last 3 years and OP has further retained money illegally instead of showing grace by offering money on first date of hearing in court, rather than attempting to fight a wrong case. We have considered the numerous decisions of this Forum in same project cases, of State Commission and National Commission in these kind of cases(placed on record in a compilation along with all correspondence date wise since the date of booking till 6.6.09) and other case law as decided by Supreme Court. The unfair practices of OP have been recently punished of Competition Commission of India, even though OP is in appeal. We find no abatement of the greed and change in its attitude in Forum since then and still, in numerous cases it is forcing on its consumers. We condemn this. We are of the view that unless OP is deprived of its gains on money collected on the basis of unfair trade practices and its greed is checked effectively, it would continue undeterred.
We restrain OP from launching and advertisement any building construction ,without putting in the advertisement and its websites the sanctions, approvals, sanctioned plans, environmental clearances, development stages, availability of water and electricity and by mentioning of concerned authorities where consumer can verify its claims.
We, holding OP guilty of gross illegality and deficiency and unfair trade practices, determine damages for harassment and litigation at Rs.5 lakh to be paid of to complainant. It is also directed to return the deposit of Rs.5 lakh with interest @ 18 percent from the date of seeking refund as OP has shown its resolve to even re-trade the booking, knowing well that it had no approvals and thus bought more time from complainant on this another false ground.