NCDRC | ‘CPA is for better consumer protection & speedy dispute redressal’: Costs imposed on HUDA for unnecessarily agitating a non-issue; Recovery to be made from officers responsible

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Dinesh Singh (Presiding Member), dismissed a revision petition filed by Haryana Urban Development Authority.

The District Forum had directed the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) to allot an alternative plot to the Complainant and awarded interest on the entire amount deposited with HUDA.

It was stated that the area in which the originally allotted plot was located was not developed by the HUDA. Consequently, possession of the said plot could not, and was not, offered by the HUDA. An alternative plot was offered in lieu thereof.

In the given facts and circumstances, deficiency in service was determined by the District Forum, and it inter alia awarded compensation by way of interest at the rate of 10% per annum on the total amount deposited with the HUDA from the date of deposit till the date of payment. It did not distinguish between the amount deposited by the original allottee and the amount deposited by the subsequent purchaser/allottee, the Complainant.

The question for consideration in the instant case was that the District Forum, in its wisdom, evidently finding it just and equitable, had adopted the yardstick of determining compensation for the Complainant by computing interest at the rate of 10% per annum on the total amount deposited for the plot in question.

Bench stated that the District Forum (rightly) did not get into the arena of distinguishing between the rights of an original allottee and of a subsequent purchaser/allottee, the question not being germane to the matter at hand i.e. of determining the quantum of (just and equitable) compensation to the Complainant.

What should have been a non-issue has been unnecessarily agitated by the HUDA before this Commission for about 10 years. 

Commission stated that HUDA unnecessarily has been agitating the interest on an amount of Rs 62,773 deposited by the original allottee, unnecessarily entering into the arena of the respective rights of an original allottee and a subsequent purchaser/allottee, without understanding that the question here was not to distinguish between such respective rights but to adopt a yardstick for calculation of just and equitable compensation for the Complainant.

The Complaint was filed in 1997. The District Forum made its order on the contest in 2003. The Appeal was filed in 2003. The State Commission dismissed it (inter alia) on limitation in 2010. The instant Petition was filed in 2011. We are now in 2021. 

Further, the Bench expressed that the Act 1986 is “for better protection of the interests of consumers”, its Statement of Objects and Reasons speaks of “speedy and simple redressal to consumer disputes”.

Concluding the decision, Commission held:

“it is just, and conscionable to dismiss this Petition with the cost of Rs 10,000, to be deposited in the Consumer Legal Aid Account of the District Forum within four weeks from today. It will be open to the Chief Executive of the Petitioner, the HUDA, to recover the said cost from its officers responsible for the unnecessary litigation before this Commission. The Petitioner, the HUDA, through its Chief Executive, is directed to make good the award in its entirety within four weeks from today, failing which the District Forum shall undertake execution, for ‘Enforcement’ and for ‘Penalty’, as per the law.”[HUDA v. Nirmal Madan, Revision Petition No. 269 of 2011, decided on 03-02-2021]

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