Rajesh K. Arya, Member
1. It is the case of the complainant that he had paid an amount of Rs.27 lacs for the opposite parties, for the period from 10.08.2018 to 11.12.2018, for construction of a residential house at plot no.7914, Block-H, Aero City, SAS Nagar, Mohali. During the period intervening, the complainant asked the opposite parties to provide him details of bill for completion of work but to no avail, as a result whereof, he hired a professional to assess the work done. It has been stated that after assessment on 10.01.2019 by the said professional, it was found that value of completion of work done by the opposite parties came to Rs.16,77,629/- whereas, they received an amount of Rs.27 lacs for the same. Under these circumstances, the complainant got the work stopped. It has been averred that in this way, the opposite parties have extracted an amount of Rs.10,22,371/- extra from the complainant, thereby causing him financial loss. At the same time, the opposite parties failed to complete the construction work as per agreement dated 19.09.2018 and demanded more amount for the same. Hence this complaint has been filed by the complainant seeking directions to the opposite parties to refund the excess amount of Rs.10,22,371/ with interest; compensation for mental agony and harassment, litigation expenses etc.
2. In their reply filed, the opposite parties pleaded that as per agreement, the complainant was liable to pay an amount of Rs.62,84,800/- for the area measuring 3928 square feet @Rs.1600/- per square feet; that out of since 60% of the work stood completed by the opposite parties as such an amount of Rs.37,73,880/- was payable by the complainant out of which only Rs.27 lacs stood paid by him; that the person who has assessed the construction work is not an expert in the field; that for arriving at figure of Rs.16,77,629/- no concrete criteria has been reported by the said person; that the complainant befooled the opposite parties to the effect that his loan is about to be sanctioned and as such they should continue the construction work even in the absence of payment of remaining amount; that instead of making payment towards erection of roof on first floor, the complainant cancelled the contract on lame ground, which caused huge loss to the opposite parties; and that the opposite parties were not obliged to provide the detail of bills for the said construction work; and that the opposite parties are still ready to complete the balance construction work on receipt of amount from the complainant as per terms and conditions of the contract.
3. In the rejoinder filed, the complainant reiterated all the averment contained in the complaint and controverted those contained in the written statement filed by the opposite parties.
4. The parties led evidence, in support of their case.
5. We have heard the contesting parties and have gone through the evidence and record of the case, including the written arguments filed by the complainant, very carefully.
6. The moot question which needs to be decided in this complaint is as to whether, the opposite parties had received excess amount from the complainant towards the partial construction work of house done on his plot or not. It may be stated here that, in the first instance, the complainant placed on record assessment report dated 10.01.2019, Annexure C-3 got prepared from one contractor named Amarjit Singh, to convince this Commission that value of completion of work done by the opposite parties came to Rs.16,77,629/- whereas, they received an amount of Rs.27 lacs for the same, thereby causing him financial loss by receiving excess amount of Rs.10,22,371/- from him. However, during pendency of this complaint, when the opposite parties disputed the said assessment report, the complainant through his Counsel, on 16.10.2009, moved an application for appointment of an expert in this complaint to measure the amount of work done by the opposite party at the site, in dispute. In the application, it was also claimed that the material used by the opposite parties is of inferior quality and they have not executed the works as per sanctioned plan and layout as sanctioned by Govt. body. It has further been stated in the application that the main dispute pertains to execution of work by the opposite parties and if an expert witness is appointed, the entire claim would become crystal clear. In this manner, the complainant himself opted for appointment of a Local Commissioner in the matter and was no more interested to contest his case on the basis of the assessment report, referred to above.
7. Though, the said application was opposed by the opposite parties, yet, in our considered opinion since, to come to any definite conclusion, independent person qualified in the said filed was required to be appointed to give his report, as such, the said application was allowed and this Commission appointed Sh.Kishanjit Singh, Former Chief Engineer, UT, Chandigarh, R/o H.No.140, Sector 40-A, Chandigarh, Mobile No.9814216762 as Local Commissioner, who visited the building, in question, i.e. House No.7914, Block-H, Aero City, S.A.S. Nagar, Mohali on 19.02.2020 between 10 AM to 6 PM in the presence of both the parties and prepared his report dated 19.02.2020.
8. We have perused the report dated 19.02.2020 aforesaid and found that it has been in a very candid manner opined by Sh.Kishanjit Singh that after getting the house in question inspected in detail, alongwith Sh.Kirpal Singh, Chief Draftsman (Retd.), that only 45 to 50% of brick/RCC structure of the building has been completed; that no public health/electricity work has been done; that only conduit pipe in roof slabs has been provided; that the bill for the work done at the site comes out to be around Rs.15,04,630/- only; that building has been constructed while using material, as per the specifications; that some efflorescence has been found in the bricks used but the same would not affect the main structure. Thus, from bare perusal of the report aforesaid, it is evident that though the material in the building and structure raised is as per the required specifications, yet, the value of the work which has been done at the site comes to Rs.15,04,630/- only, whereas, on the other hand, the opposite parties have already received an amount of Rs.27 lacs from the complainant, which act clearly amounts to adoption of unfair trade practice. In our considered opinion since the complainant has himself agreed to supersede his assessment report attached with the main complaint by the report of the Local Commissioner and at the same time, not even an iota of evidence has been placed on record by the opposite parties, to rebut the report of the said Local Commissioner, as such, the same is binding on the parties.
9. Under above circumstances, we are of the considered opinion that the complainant was right in seeking bills from the opposite parties towards the work done in the building, when he noticed that excess money has been extracted from him. By not providing the said bills, the opposite parties were deficient in providing service. It is significant to mention here that the opposite parties cannot wriggle out of the situation by stating that they were not obliged to provide any record/bills to the complainant, as the same was not agreed to between the parties, because every person who is shredding hefty amount from his pocket, towards the services being provided to him, has right to know as to how, where and in what manner, the same has been utilized. Thus, when the detail of bills towards expenditure on the construction work for the house of the complainant was not provided to him by the opposite parties and at the same time, he also come to know that excess amount has been extracted from his pocket by the opposite parties, he was right in stopping the work and cancelling the contract.
10. For the reasons recorded above, this complaint is partly accepted, with costs. The opposite parties, jointly and severally, are directed as under:-
i. To refund the amount of Rs.11,95,370/- (Rs.27,00,000/- minus (-) Rs.15,04,630/-) received in excess from the complainant, as explained above, alongwith interest @12% p.a. starting from the date of filing of this complaint, within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this order, failing which, thereafter, the said amount shall carry 3% penal i
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nterest i.e. 15% p.a. (12% p.a. plus (+) 3% p.a.), from the date of passing of this order, till realization. ii. To pay compensation for causing mental agony and harassment and also cost of litigation, in lumpsum, to the tune of Rs.50,000/-, to the complainant, within a period of 30 days, from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this order, failing which, the said amount of Rs.50,000/-, shall carry interest @9% p.a. from the date of passing of this order, till realization. 11. However, it is made clear that if the complainant has availed housing loan from any bank/financial institution for making payment towards price of the plot in question, it shall have the first charge on the amount payable, to the extent, the same is due to be paid by the complainant. 12. Certified Copies of this order be sent to the parties, free of charge. 13. The file be consigned to Record Room, after completion