Sahara ordered to refund Rs 84 lakh to 12 homebuyers
The district consumer court in Pune has directed Sahara Prime City Limited, a project by Sahara India in Dhanori, to refund a total of Rs 84 lakh with 9 per cent per annum interest and Rs 5,000 cost to each of 12 homebuyers for deficient service.
Between December 2012 and January 2013, Sahara Prime City had collected amounts in the range of Rs 6 lakh and Rs 11 lakh for flats costing over Rs 45 lakh from the 12 homebuyers. On 5 July 2014, Sahara Prime City issued letters to these homebuyers that due to an apex court's order in June 2014 it had initiated process for selling the project land to some other builder. The project developer then gave the option to these homebuyers to withdraw from the project by opting for refund with interest on the part-consideration they paid for purchasing flats.
The homebuyers opted for withdrawal and intimated the same to Sahara Prime City. However, the developer neither completed the project nor refunded the amount received from these buyers. “It is crystal clear that there is deficiency on the part of the opposite party (Sahara) while rendering housing construction service to the complainants,” the consumer court bench of VP Utpat and Onkar G Patil said in ex-parte orders on 21 June relating to each of the 12 complaints. Sahara Prime City had failed to respond to the consumer court's notices as the developer neither filed a written statement nor was represented by any lawyer during the case hearing.
The bench observed in its ruling that the part-consideration paid by the complainants was not a gratuitous (given free of charge) act and they were bound to get a refund. The bench referred to the provisions under the Indian Contract Act and observed, “When a contract has been broken, the party who suffers by such breach is entitled to receive from the party who has broken the contract, compensation for any loss or damage caused. As such, the complainants were entitled for refund.” The bench cited provisions of Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act to the effect that a simple interest is payable on refund amount when the promoter and developer fails to handover possession within specified time.