National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): Expressing that the builder cannot take shelter of “Force Majeure” while delay in handing over possession Coram of C. Viswanath (Presiding Member) and Ram Surat Ram Maurya (Member) directed for a refund of buyers’ amount along with interest.
Facts in a Nutshell
Complainants had booked a unit in OP’s project and paid a booking amount as well. Later they were allotted a unit vide an allotment letter.
Subsequently, an Apartment Buyer’s Agreement was executed, wherein possession of the unit was promised within 39 months from the date of excavation, excluding an additional grace period of 6 months to complete the project.
The grievance of the Complainants was that the OP, despite receiving more than 90% of the total consideration, failed to hand over possession of the Unit, within the promised time period and even possession in the near future seemed unlikely.
Contentions of the OP
OP while contending that the possession could not be delivered in time because some of the customers did not make timely payments also added that there was a shortage of labour due to construction of Commonwealth Games Village, shortage of water, dispute with construction agencies, delays in obtaining licenses, approvals, etc. Further, it was added that as per the Agreement, in case of delay caused due to “Force Majeure” events, the OP would be entitled to an extension of time, without incurring any liability.
Though, the Opposite Party failed to prove that there was an unforeseen and unexpected event that prevented the completion of the Project within the stipulated time period.
Analysis, Law and Decision
Commission expressed that the OP cannot take shelter of the “Force Majeure” Clause and the reasons cited by the OP for the delay of the project, appeared to be delaying tactics veiled as “Force Majeure” conditions and seemed to be an attempt to wriggle out of its contractual obligations.
It was noted that even after receiving the substantial amount OP failed to fulfil its contractual obligation of delivering possession of the Unit to the complainant within the time stipulated.
A person cannot be made to wait indefinitely for the possession of the flats allotted to him/her. The Complainants are, therefore, entitled to seek the refund of the amount paid along with compensation. [Manoj Kawatra v. Pioneer Urban Land & Infrastructure, 2021 SCC OnLine NCDRC 325, decided on 1-11-2021]
Advocates before the Commission:
For the Complainant: Aditya Parolia, Advocate
For the OP: T.V.S. Raghavendra Sreyas, Advocate