Dis­pute with builders can be heard in con­sumer court

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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.

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