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The matter arose out of a complaint filed by Alpha G184 Owners Association before the Commission alleging that Magnum International Trading Company Pvt Ltd failed in its obligation to construct and complete the promised flats within the timeline agreed upon.
The Supreme Court has said that a pedantic and hyper-technical approach would cause damage to the very concept of consumerism as it allowed an appeal filed by an association of prospective flat owners against a real estate developer over delay in handing over their dwellings.
A bench of Justices J K Maheshwari and M M Sundresh noted with concern that the case has not progressed even after five years of complaint before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
"The Consumer Protection Act, 1986; and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 have got a laudable objective. The 2019 Act facilitates the consumers to approach the forums by providing a very flexible procedure. It is meant to encourage consumerism in the country. Any technical approach in construing the provisions against the consumer would go against the very objective behind the enactment," the bench said.
The matter arose out of a complaint filed by Alpha G184 Owners Association before the Commission alleging that Magnum International Trading Company Pvt Ltd failed in its obligation to construct and complete the promised flats within the timeline agreed upon, and to pay compensation for the delay caused at its instance. The allottees also questioned the additional demands raised by the developer.
The complaint was initially filed by 54 allottees who were subsequently joined by several others.
The developer, on the contrary, raised a contention that the aims and objectives enunciated in the bylaws of the appellant association were not in conformity with the Haryana Registration and Regulation of Societies Act, 2012.
It filed a complaint before the Registrar of Societies, Haryana for cancellation of the registration of the appellant association. Thereafter, a writ petition was also filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, where the matter is pending with no interim order. The Commission also adjourned the proceedings awaiting orders in the writ petition.
Senior advocate Narendra Hooda, appearing for the appellant, submitted that the developer is bent upon preventing the appellant from seeking recourse to legal remedy. "Complaints filed in the year 2017 are yet to be adjudicated on merits. The pendency of the writ petition has got no connection with the proceedings before the National Commission," he said.
Since affidavits have been filed by the individual allottees, the National Commission has erred in adjourning the matters sine die, he said.
The counsel for the developer claimed if the registration of the appellant is non-existent, the very complaint would become not maintainable. An individual complaint can be dealt by the district forum, he said.
Referring to the SC judgment on 'Brigade Enterprises Ltd Vs Anil Kumar Virmani' (2022), the bench said that the members of the appellant, who had filed affidavits, would fall under Section 12(1)(a) of the 1986 Act.
The court also said that the definition of ‘complainant’ under Section 2(b)(i) of the 1986 Act, will include multiple consumers.
The bench also cited the National Commission's decision in 'Akshay Kumar & Ors Vs Adani Brahma Synergy Pvt Ltd' on March 06, 2023, upholding the right of several complainants having same and similar interest in filing a single complaint and computation of pecuniary jurisdiction.
Allowing the appeal, the bench said, "Complaints have already been registered, and in any case, the issue pertaining to registration and the bylaws has got no relevancy, particularly in light of the submission made by the counsel for the appellant that affidavits have been filed by individual allottees."
The bench asked the Commission to decide the matter expeditiously, observing, "A pedantic and hyper-technical approach would cause damage to the very concept of consumerism. We further note that even after five years the appellant is unable to proceed, and the cases have not progressed."
Case Title: Alpha G184 Owners Association vs. Magnum International Trading Company Pvt. Ltd.
Statute: Haryana Registration and Regulation of Societies Act, 2012.
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