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No valid agreement, Consumer Forum orders builder to refund money with 18% interest to customers

Monday, April 08, 2019
By A Staff Reporter

In the absence of a valid agreement, the builder had denied that they were his customers

An additional Suburban Consumer Forum recently refused to accept the contention of a builder that the complainants were not his customers, but had invested in his project, after nine flat buyers had approached the Forum in 2017 and 2018 when they had not got possession of the flats.

The complainants had filed a complaint against the Chembur-based company Tuli Builders after they did not get possession of flats they had booked with advance payments. They were told that these flats were part of those that the builder was free to sell in the open market after redeveloping a Chembur slum. They had paid between Rs. 1 lakh to nine lakhs between 2007 and 2010. The complainants had also informed the Forum that they had filed a cheating case against the builder too in the matter, when repeated visits to get possession of the flats had not yielded results.

While the complainants had receipts the builder had given them for the amounts they had paid, the agreement they possessed was not a registered one and only a notarized one.

On his part, the builder had told the Forum that the complainants were not his customers and he had no agreement with them. He claimed that they had invested in his slum redevelopment project and hence, the Consumer Forum has no jurisdiction to deal with the matter. He further had stated that there were no flats available in the particular project to be sold in the open market.

The Consumer Forum found that the agreement which the complainants possessed was not regarding the flat sale and had no mention of the amounts they had paid. However, it noted that the receipts did mention that the amounts were paid for purchase of flats in the slum redevelopment project.

It stated in its judgment that the builder never made agreements with the complainants after taking money from them. It questioned the claim of the builder that the money the complainants had paid him was for investment in the project because there was no document shown to the Forum to show such an understanding between him and them.

Ordering the builder to refund the amounts with 18% interest to the complainants from the time the investments had been made, the Forum also ordered a compensation of a lakh each to all of them for the mental agony they had suffered.

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