At, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE V.K. JAIN
By, PRESIDING MEMBER
For the Petitioners: Surbhi Mehta, Ashwin Kumar D.S., Advocates. For the Respondent: Rajesh Mahale, J. Amith, Advocates.
I.A. No.10153/2019 (For condonation of delay)
I.A. No.10154/2019 (For condonation of delay)
For the reasons stated in the applications, delay in institution of the Revision Petitions is condoned.
The respondent is a cooperative society registered under Karnataka State Societies Act, 1959. The respondent society applied to the Government of Karnataka for acquiring land for making allotment to it. The society intended to develop that land into residential sites for allotment to its members. A notification under Section-4 of the Land Acquisition Act was issued by the Government of Karnataka, for acquiring agricultural land in Arehalli Village, Uttarahalli Hobli, Bangalore South Taluk on 11.12.1986 followed by a notification under Section-6 of the Land Act on 11.01.1988. The award came to be passed by the Special Land Acquisition Officer on 03.12.1989. Several land owners filed a Writ Petition in Karnataka High Court challenging the acquisition of land. The acquisition was quashed by the Hon’ble High Court on 18.06.1991 and the Special Leave Petition against the order of the High Court was dismissed by the Hon’ble High Court on 21.02.1995. As a result the land was returned by the Special Land Acquisition Officer to the land owners.
2. Since the residential sites were not made available to the complainants, by the society, the complainants/petitioners approached the concerned District Forum by way of separate Consumer Complaints seeking refund of the amount which they had paid to the society along with compensation etc.
3. The complaints were resisted by the respondent-society which interalia stated in its written version that the acquisition of the land having been quashed and the land having been returned by the Special Land Acquisition Officer to its owners, they were not in a position to provide the residential sites to the complainants. It was also stated in the written version that the Land Acquisition Officer had also made deduction of more than Rs.33 lacs towards audit fees etc., from the amount which the society has deposited with him. The society expressed its difficulty in making payment to the complainants.
4. The District Forum having directed refund of the amount paid by the complainant/petitioners to the respondent society along with interest @ 12% p.a., the respondent society approached the concerned State Commission by way of separate appeals. Vide impugned order dated 05.07.2018, the State Commission allowed the appeals to the extent that while maintaining the directions for refund of the principle amount to the complainants, the direction for payment of interest was set aside. Being aggrieved, the complainants/petitioners are before this Commission.
5. The learned counsel for the complainants/petitioners has drawn my attention to the decision of this Commission dated 16.12.2013 in Revision Petition Nos. 1189/2011, 1190/2011 and 1191/2011—Amarjyothi House Building Cooperative Society Ltd. Vs. V.S. Pradeep, S. Shivananda and V.S. Manjunath, whereby this Commission maintained the directions for refund of the principal amount with interest @ 12% p.a. to several other members of the society, who had taken residential sites with the respondent society.
A perusal of the decision of this Commission in Amara Jyothi House Building Co-operative Society Ltd. (Supra) would show that the respondents therein had made payments to the society for allotment of residential sites in Sarakki Layout. Admittedly, the site subject matter of the consumer complaints in the above referred decision of this Commission was also to be developed by the respondent society out of the land which the Government of Karnataka had to acquire for the respondent vide notification dated 11.12.1986 and 11.01.1988 followed by the award dated 03.12.1989. Admittedly, the site in those matters could not be provided to the complainants on account of the acquisition of the land having been quashed by the Karnataka High Court vide its order dated 18.06.1991. The consumer complaints filed in that batch of matters were contested by the society on the same ground on which the consumer complaints subject matter of these petitions have been contested. It was inter-alia stated by the society that the land acquisition having been quashed by the High Court and the Special Leave Petitions having been dismissed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the sites could not be provided to the aforesaid complaint. It was also stated by the society that the amount collected from the members was utilised for payment of compensation to the land owners and the society had spent the entire money which it had collected from the members. It was also submitted that it was not in a position to make allotments or to execute the sale deed, no land being available with it for allotment. The District Forum having allowed the consumer complaints and directed refund of the principal amount, with interest @ 12% p.a., the society approached the concerned State Commission by way of the appeals. The said appeals also having been dismissed, the society approached this Commission by way of separate petitions. Dismissing the Revision Petitions filed by the society, this Commission inter-alia held as under:
22. Even on merits, petitioner has no case at all as petitioner itself in its written statement has categorically stated:
The Society for reasons stated above is not in apposition to allot or execute the sale deed in favour of the complainant since no lands are available for formation of sites.
23. Thus, as per petitioner’s own case, if it is not in a position to allot or execute sale deed in favour of the complainants as no lands are available for formation of sites, then we fail to understand as to under what legal authority, petitioner is retaining the hard-earned money of the respondents, received by it more than 25 years ago. The conduct of the petitioner society is admittedly deplorable.
24. Under these circumstances, we hold that present revision petitions are most bogus and frivolous one and have been filed just to harass the respondents. To a large extent petitioner society has succeeded in depriving the respondents, the fruits of the award which was passed many years ago. Therefore, we hold that present revision petitions are not maintainable being barred by limitation, Even otherwise, these petitions are not sustainable on merits also.”
6. The learned counsel for the respondent submits that since 1986, the money collected by the society was lying deposited with the Government and they had not received any intere
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st from the Government on the said amount. It is also his submission that it would be unfair to the society if it is made to pay the interest to the complainants without receiving any interest from the Government on the amount which society had deposited with the said Government. 7. Since I am bound by decision rendered by a coordinate bench of this Commission, it is not open to me to re-examine the same issue again and take a contrary view. The order passed by the State Commission being contrary to the view taken by this Commission in the above referred case cannot be sustained and same is accordingly set aside. The orders passed by the District Forum are consequently restored. The Revision Petitions stand disposed of accordingly.