Lodha Group asked to refund Rs 1.02cr with 18% interest for arbitrarily cancelling a flat
NEW DELHI: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission(NCDRC) has directed the Mumbai-based Lodha Group to refund Rs 1.02 crore for “arbitrarily” cancelling a flat booked by two senior citizens in Thane along with 18% interest on the principal amount from end-2010.
It said the builder “illegally withheld” the money for five years and ordered it to pay the couple an additional Rs 1 lakh in “compensation” within 90 days. “We hereby condemn the attempt to pull a fast one on the complainants,” says the order passed on May 5.
The builder had cancelled allotment in June 2011 after the complainants, Dr Naren P Sheth and Dr Sudha N Sheth, opposed what the commission has called the “illegally demanded additional amount” of Rs 3.96 lakh towards car parking and took the matter to the district consumer forum. The builder “hurriedly” sold the apartment to another buyer in July 2011, a month before the case was filed before NCDRC – an action the panel described as “bordering on contempt of court” and “clearly establishing the builder’s mala fide intention”.
Stating that the sale agreement had “made it clear” that the buyers were entitled to two car parks, the commission pronounced, “The complainants were not bound to pay the double amount for car parking… (They) should have been warned and a notice should have been sent before cancelling the flat. This shows the arbitrary, high-handed, arrogant, despotic and capricious character of OP2”. OP2 stands for ‘opposite party 2’, Shree Sainath Enterprises (SSE), which is part of the Lodha Group, listed in the order as OP1.
The order, passed by a bench of Justice J M Malik and Dr S M Kantikar, said the builder on January 17, 2011 forwarded a “completely arbitrary” allotment letter and “made a reference of executing an interim arrangement, the concept of which is completely illegal and unacceptable”.
It said the builder went on “accepting lion’s share towards the construction and the delivery and possession of the flat, but did not execute the agreement to sell”. It also said the builder could not demand additional amount for parking as per law. “It depicts deficiency and unfair trade practices. It’s also surprising to note that after receiving almost the entire amount, the OPs chose to cancel the same without giving possession.”