Dispute with builders can be heard in consumer court
The Chandigarh State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission cleared the vagueness over jurisdiction of consumer redressal forums in complaints against real estate developers, especially the ones who get an arbitration clause signed with their clients.
“If a consumer opts for the remedy of arbitration, then it may be possible to say that he cannot, subsequently, file complaint under the Consumer Act. However, if he chooses to file a complaint in the first instance before the competent consumer forum, then he cannot be denied relief,” said the commission.
The commission held that though realtors had been claiming that the forums did not have any power to entertain consumers’ complaints, in cases where agreement for settlement of disputes was provided through arbitration, it was not the only remedy for the consumer – rather, it was an optional remedy. The statements are a relief to consumers fighting builders for delayed possession and not keeping other commitments like interest on the properties in case of delay in giving possession, etc.
Restaurant charged for charging illegal tax
The Brooklyn Central restaurant, a part of Halcyon Inn Hospitality Services, was fined Rs 27,000 for charging more than the MRP of a drinking water bottle.
In his complaint to the consumer forum, a native of Ludhiana, stated that he along with his wife and family friends had gone to the restaurant, located at Elante Mall in Chandigarh Industrial Area, for dinner. While leaving, they purchased two sealed water bottles with the MRP of Rs 60 each. However, they were charged Rs 312 for the two bottles. When he objected, the complainant was told that the charges included Rs 16.50 as VAT, Rs 12 as service charge, and Rs 7.39 as service tax.
The court has directed the restaurant to pay Rs 7,000 on account of deficiency in service and causing mental and physical harassment to the complainant. It also asked the eatery to pay Rs 5,000 towards costs of litigation and deposit Rs 15,000 in the Consumer Legal Aid Account.
Another issue the firm raised was of jurisdiction. Since the account was opened in Telengana (then Andhra Pradesh) and the complainant was a resident of Secunderabad, it was submitted that he should have complained before an appropriate forum in that state.