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Debasish Saha & Others v/s Godrej Properties Limited & Another

    Complaint Case No. 400 of 2017
    Decided On, 03 January 2020
    At, West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Kolkata
    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. SAMARESH PRASAD CHOWDHURY
    By, PRESIDING MEMBER & THE HONOURABLE MRS. DIPA SEN (MAITY)
    By, MEMBER
    For the Complainants: Soumyajyoti Nandy, Advocate. For the Opposite Parties: Rajarshi Datta, Advocate.


Judgment Text

Samaresh Prasad Chowdhury, Presiding Member.

1. The instant complaint under Section 17 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (hereinafter refer to as ‘the Act’) is at the behest of a son, mother and daughter-in-law/purchaser against a construction company (Opposite Party No. 1) and its Regional Head (Opposite Party No. 2) on the allegation of deficiency of services, primarily on the part of Opposite Party No. 1 in a dispute of housing construction.

2. In a capsulated form, complainants’ case is that on 8.3.2013 they entered into an agreement for sale with the erstwhile OP No. 1 Company (Happy Highrises Limited) to purchase of a residential flat measuring about 1359 sq. ft. super built up area being Unit No. 1803 on the 18 floor in the Tower named ‘Aravali’ together with right to use one multi level car parking space as mentioned in part-I and part-II of Third Schedule to the agreement for sale in the complex christened ‘Godrej Prakriti’ lying and situated at Municipal holding No. 187F/1, B.T. Road, P.S.- Khardah, Kolkata- 700115, Dist- North 24, Parganas within the local limits of Ward No. 14 of Panihati Municipality at a total consideration of Rs. 42,50,669 for the flat and Rs. 2,50,000 for the car parking space aggregating Rs. 44,50,669. The complainants have stated that in accordance with the payment schedule, they have paid the consideration amount regularly. In the agreement it was stipulated that the OP No. 1 company will deliver the subject flat in complete condition within 30.6.2014. Accordingly, the complainants enquired with the Opposite Party the reasons for non-delivery of possession, the Opposite Parties assured the complainants that they will try to hand over the possession within the extended time limit of 31.12.2014 and the complainants would be compensated for delayed delivery of possession. Subsequently, on 14.1.2016 the OP No. 1 Company issued a notice of possession and accordingly a Deed of Conveyance was executed and registered on 22.7.2016. The complainants have stated that the OP Company has not provided the compensation in terms of Clause 15.5 of the agreement and also the common benefits and facilities and in this regard all the requests and persuasions including the legal notice went in vain. Hence, the complainant approached this Commission with payer for following reliefs, viz.—(a) an order directing the Opposite Parties to compensate the complainants with payment of interest for delayed delivery of possession of the Residential Unit No. 1803 on 18th floor of the Tower Named ‘Aravali’ of the complex known as ‘GODREJ PRAKRITI’ lying and situated at the municipal holding No. 187F/1, B.T. Road, Kolkata-700115 for the period from 1st July, 2014 to 14th January, 2016 @ 9% per annum amounting to Rs. 4,06,646 along with further interest on Rs. 4,06,646 for the period from 23.7.2016 till the actual date of payment @ 18% per annum; (b) an order directing the Opposite Parties to compensate the complainants for not providing Completion Certificate, swimming pool, football ground, Multi-speciality Hospital, Retail Store, Sewerage Treatment Plant, Boundary wall at the project site to ensure adequate safety and security, electricity supply at the said Unit and provide each and every common facility and amenity in terms of the Deed of Conveyance dated 22.7.2016 in accordance with the promises and assurances given by the Opposite Parties; (c) an order directing the Opposite Parties to pay as compensation to complainants for deficiency in services for not providing several facilities including swimming pool, football ground, multi-speciality hospital etc.; (d) an order directing the Opposite Parties to pay Rs. 1,00,000 as compensation to complainants for causing mental harassment and agony; (e) an order directing the Opposite Parties to pay a sum of Rs. 30,000 for legal expenses and other incidental costs etc.

3. The Opposite Party Nos. 1 and 2 by filing a written version have stated that the complainants with their full satisfaction had accepted the possession of the unit upon execution and registration of Deed of Conveyance dated 22.7.2016 and as such the complaint should be dismissed with costs.

4. On behalf of Complainants, one Sri Pinaki Guha Thakurta, Constituted Attorney of the complainants has tendered evidence through affidavit. The said person has also given reply against the questionnaire set forth by the OPs.

5. On the other hand, on behalf of OPs, one Sri Abhishek Mitra, Authorised Signatory of OPs has filed the evidence through affidavit. The said Abhishek Mitra has also given reply against the questionnaire set forth by the complainants. Besides the same, both the parties have relied upon the several documents. At the time of final hearing, both the parties have filed brief notes of argument in support of their respective cases.

6. The overwhelming evidence on record make it abundantly clear that the complainants had entered into an agreement with Happy Highrises Limited on 8.3.2013 to purchase of a residential flat measuring about 1359 sq. ft. super built up area being Unit No. 1803 on the 18th floor in the Tower named ‘Aravali’ together with right to use one multi level car parking space as mentioned in part-I and part-II of Third Schedule to the agreement for sale in the complex christened ‘Godrej Prakriti’ lying and situated at Municipal holding No. 187F/1, B.T. Road, P.S.-Khardah, Kolkata-700115, Dist- North 24, Parganas within the local limits of Ward No. 14 of Panihati Municipality at a total consideration of Rs. 42,50,669 for the flat and Rs. 2,50,000 for the car parking space aggregating Rs. 44,50,669.

7. It remains undisputed that on payment of entire consideration amount, the OP No. 1 Company had issued notice of possession letter on 14.1.2016. Subsequently, the Deed of Conveyance was executed and registered on 22.7.2016.

8. Mr. N.R. Mukherjee, learned Advocate for the complainant submits that though the complainants has claimed several reliefs on various grounds including common facilities and benefits like swimming pool, football ground, Multi-speciality Hospital, Retail Store, Sewerage Treatment Plant, Boundary wall etc but as they are relating to common amenities/facilities, when no permission has been sought for to initiate a ‘class action’ in accordance with Section 12(1)(c) of the Act, the complainant is not entitled to any relief regarding common facilities and benefits. Therefore, he has confined his claim only in respect of his compensation drawing our attention to Clause 15.5 to the agreement for sale executed between the parties. The relevant clause runs as follows:

“15.5. In the event there being no default on the part of the Purchaser, the Owner fails to deliver possession of the Unit within 30 June, 2014, the Owner shall pay interest on the amount to be paid by the Purchaser till that date at the rate of 9% per annum from 1st July, 2014 till the expiry of the notice of possession and adjustable with the last instalment. If the Owner fails to deliver possession of the said Unit to the Purchaser within 31st December, 2014, then this agreement would come to an end and the Owner shall refund to the Purchaser the entire amount paid by the Purchaser together with interest thereon at the rate of 9% per annum from 1st July, 2014 till the date of payment.”

9. Learned Advocate for the complainants has submitted that as per the terms and conditions of the agreement, the complainants are entitled to interest @ 9% p.a. from 1.7.2014 till intimation of possession i.e. 14.1.2016 and further interests from the said date till the date of actual date of payment @ 18% p.a. but when without paying any amount of compensation, OP No. 1 Company has delivered the flat in question, it amounts to deficiency in services on the part of OP No. 1 Company.

10. Mr. Rajarshi Datta, learned Advocate for the OPs, on the other hand, has contended that when the complainants had received possession of the unit/flat without raising any dispute, they are not entitled to any compensation.

11. The learned Advocate for the OPs has further submitted that Sri Pinaki Guha Thakurta, who deposed on behalf of the complainants on the strength of Power of Attorney, is not a competent person to depose as he has no knowledge about the transactions between the complainants and the OP company. To fortify his submission the learned Advocate for the OPs has placed reliance to a decision of Karnataka High Court reported in 2014 (1) ICC 915 (Abdul Basheer and Anr v. State of Karnataka and Ors.).

12. At the outset it would be worthwhile to record that once the complaint was dismissed for default by order No. 8 dated 9.10.2018. However, by order of the Hon’ble National Commission dated 22.1.2019 in FA/2107/2018 to FA/2016/2018 the said order of dismissal was set aside and there is a direction to dispose of the complaint preferably within six months. Despite best effort, the complaint could not be disposed of within six months from the date on account of cease work observed by the members of the Bar Council of West Bengal for about long two months and further Puja Vacation for 15 days.

13. It should also not be out of place to mention here that during the pendency of the proceeding the name of Happy Highrises Ltd. was deleted and the name of Godrej Properties Ltd. was substituted in view of the order passed by the National Company Law Tribunal, Mumbai Bench dated 29.3.2017 in Transfer Company Scheme Petition No. 23 of 2017.

14. The materials on record make it quite clear that on 8.3.2013 the complainants had entered into an agreement with Happy Highrises Limited to purchase of a residential flat measuring about 1,359 sq. ft. super built up area being Unit No. 1803 on the 18th floor in the Tower named ‘Aravali’ together with right to use one multi level car parking space as mentioned in part-I and part-II of Third Schedule to the agreement for sale in the complex christened ‘Godrej Prakriti’ lying and situated at Municipal holding No. 187F/1, B.T. Road, P.S.-Khardah, Kolkata-700115, Dist-North 24 Parganas within the local limits of Ward No. 14 of Panihati Municipality at a total consideration of Rs. 42,50,669 for the flat and Rs. 2,50,000 for the car parking space aggregating Rs. 44,50,669. As per terms of the agreement, the OP company was under obligation to handover the subject flat within 30.6.2014 which may be extended till 31.12.2014 subject to payment of compensation.

15. It remains undisputed that the sale deed was executed in favour of the complainants on 22.7.2016 and prior to that notice of possession was delivered to the complainants on 14.1.2016.

It is undisputed proposition of law that the parties are bound by the terms of Agreement. A person who signs a document contain certain contractual terms is normally bound by them even though he is ignorant of their precise legal effect. In a decision reported in II (1996) CPJ 25 (SC)=1996 (SLT SOFT) 2155=AIR 1996 SC 2508, Bharati Knitting Company v. DHL Worldwide Express Courier Division of Airfreight Ltd., the Hon’ble Supreme Court has observed thus:

“It is seen that when a person signs a document which contains certain contractual terms, as rightly pointed out by Mr. R.F. Nariman, learned Senior Counsel, that normally parties are bound by such contract; it is for the party to establish exception in a suit. When a party to the contract disputes the binding nature of the signed document, it is for him to prove the terms in the contract or circumstances in which he came to sign the documents need to be established. The question we need to consider is whether the District Forum or the State Commission or the National Commission could go behind the terms of the contract? It is true, as contended by Mr. M.N. Krishanmani, that in an appropriate case, the Tribunal without trenching upon acute disputed question of facts may decide the validity of the terms of the contract based upon the fact situation and may grant remedy. But each case depends upon it own facts. In an appropriate case where there is an acute dispute of facts necessarily the Tribunal has to refer the parties to original Civil Court established under the CPC or appropriate State law to have the claims decided between the parties. But when there is a specific term in the contract, the parties are bound by the terms in the contract”.

Therefore, as per Clause 15.5 to the Agreement for Sale, the OP No. 1 Company was under obligation to pay compensation @ 9% p.a. from 1.7.2014 till the date of notice of possession i.e. on 7.9.2015 and further they are liable to pay the said amount till the date of payment.

16. Having heard both sides and keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case coupled with the observation of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Bharati Knitting Company Pvt. Ltd. (supra), we have no hesitation to hold that when there is specific terms in the agreement that the OP No. 1 Company will handover the possession within 30.6.2014 and failed to do so, certainly it amounts to deficiency in services within the meaning of Section 2(1)(g) read with Section 2(1)(o) of the Act. There

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fore, when the OP No. 1 Company with open eyes executed the Agreement for Sale with an undertaking to pay interests @9% p.a. on failure on their part to handover the possession within 30.6.2014, certainly the complainants are entitled to compensation in the form of simple interest @ 9% p.a. from the committed date of possession i.e. from 1.7.2014 till the date of realisation of the entire amount. In this regard, the competency or in competency of giving evidence by the constituted Attorney of the Complainants are irrelevant consideration because the Agreement of Sale itself indicates that the complainants are entitled to compensation @ 9% p.a. in accordance with the terms of Agreement. Under compelling circumstances, the complainants have to come up in this Commission to lodge complaint and as such they are entitled to litigation cost which we quantify at Rs. 10,000. With the above discussion, complaint is allowed on contest with the following directions: (i) The Opposite Party No. 1 Company Godrej Properties Ltd. is directed to pay compensation in the form of simple interest @ 9% p.a. over the amount of Rs. 44,50,669 to the complainants from 1.7.2014 till its realisation; (ii) The Opposite Party No. 1 Company Godrej Properties Ltd. is directed to pay Rs. 10,000 to the complainants as costs of litigation; (iii) The above payments should be paid within 90 days in terms of the above order. Complaint allowed.
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