The apex court has earned the gratitude of home buyers by cracking down on errant builders like Amrapali
The Supreme Court has rightly come down on errant builders with a firm hand. The first major construction giant to be severely reprimanded is the high-flying Amrapali Builders. Their representatives got a massive tongue-lashing from their lordships during which epithets like cheats and liars were freely used against Amrapali bosses. Many would say that the builder group had it coming. The apex court had warned them for months demanding straight answers that were not forthcoming. Clearly, there was an attempt to hoodwink the courts the same way as Amrapali had hoodwinked their customers. With buildings lying incomplete all over NCR, exasperated buyers have been agitating for apartments to be delivered or punishment to be meted out to the defaulting company. The recent revelation that approximately Rs 3,000 crore of home buyers’ money had been cavalierly siphoned off to other group companies of Amrapali, came as the last straw for buyers reeling under financial pressure as many had borrowed money from the market to pay the builder in the hope of acquiring a dream home in a city, particularly NCR.
The absence of a water-tight regulatory mechanism, notwithstanding the recent promulgation of RERA, has enabled fraudulent builders to decamp with homebuyers’ money and stifle their dreams for decades. Extravagant promises are made to lure unwary customers into investing their hard-earned savings in grandiose schemes with promises of early delivery of apartments. Once most of the money is collected, builders either decamp or re-invest it into other projects while subscribers to the original projects are left in the lurch. Rows of incomplete buildings greet people driving along almost all major highways on Delhi’s outskirts. The canny builders construct a few “model” flats to tempt buyers into believing that similar flats will be theirs one day. With complete indifference to people’s suffering, builders flit from project to project, sometimes indulging their pet fantasies such as film production. Others like Amrapali hire celebrities like MS Dhoni to star as poster-boys to promote projects which they have no intention to complete. India’s aspirational middle class is easily duped by eloquent assurances of lavish apartments and villas and quickly pay up the stipulated instalments. Thereafter, repeated entreaties to the builders and their agents do not elicit convincing responses and potential home buyers are left with no option except to wait indefinitely in the hope that some day the dream will fructify. Finally, it would seem that the judiciary has determined to bring the defalcators to book. By seizing and selling off builders’ properties, such as hotels and malls, the court plans to raise funds necessary to complete some projects within a reasonable time-frame. This has already happened in a few cases. Hopefully, the Supreme Court’s tough actions will continue across the spectrum and errant builders forced to deliver or refund home buyers’ investment with interest. Apart from RERA, the Government also needs to fast-track resolution of similar disputes arising from non-fulfillment of promises. The idea of establishing a separate court exclusively catering to home buyers’ grievances has become essential in these conditions as the delay in delivering justice is what breaks the back of long-suffering consumers. With Prime Minister Narenda Modi committed to ensuring a roof above every Indian’s head by 2022, all stakeholders in the construction industry must be motivated to come forward and achieve that noble aspiration.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer