New Delhi: Indicating that a real estate company cannot delay refunding money to homebuyers through protracted litigation, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed Parsvnath Developers to deposit Rs 12 crore belonging to investors as the precondition for hearing its plea against returning the money.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and C Nagappan granted the company four weeks' time to deposit the money before its registry after senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the company, sought quashing of National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission(NCDRC) order directing it to refund the money with interest to 70 flat buyers who had invested around Rs 17 crore.
Expressing difficulty in paying back the money, Sibal said more than 800 families had put in their money in Exotica project in Ghaziabad and all of them would seek refund if the court directed refund to 70 buyers. He said the entire business would collapse in that situation. The project was launched in 2007 with a promise of handing over the flats by 2011 but the company failed to fulfil its promise and construction is still going on.
Sibal assured the Supreme Court that the company would hand over possession of flats by the end of next year and also submitted that the firm is ready to pay rental amount for delay in completing the project. He pleaded to the court to intervene to find a way out so that interests of both consumers and the company were protected. Agreeing to hear the plea, the bench directed the company to deposit Rs 12 crore before its registry within four weeks and also asked the buyers to think over the company's proposal and brief the court about their stand on the next date of hearing.
Advocate M L Lahoty, appearing for aggrieved flat buyers, however, insisted for the refund of money and told the bench that Ghaziabad Development Authority had even withdrawn the sanction for the project.
Lahoty also said there was no possibility of Parsvnath completing the project by December 30, 2017. But he agreed to take instructions from his clients on the new proposal offered by the company.
Parsvnath CMD Pradip Jain said, "We will abide by the court's direction.'' He added that the delay in construction was mainly because of a delay in approval of revalidation of the building plan, which was cancelled in 2015.
The SC has directed the company to pay the equivalent rent to each of the buyers for the delayed period and pro-rata interest accrued on the amount of Rs 12 crore deposited with the SC. The developer had approached the SC against against National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission's direction to refund the amount paid by buyers, and also pay Rs 3 lakh as compensation and Rs 25,000 as litigation cost to 70 buyers who had booked flats in Parsvnath Exotica project in May this year.