Consumer body chief steps forward to help Andheri West residents who were forced to pay stamp duty twice

Updated: Oct 11, 2019, 07:41 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Consumer body chief joins fight for people forced to pay stamp duty a second time for agreements

A sweeping view of DN Nagar, Andheri West, with large scale redevelopment
A sweeping view of DN Nagar, Andheri West, with large scale redevelopment

After the Financial Frauds Victims Welfare Association (FFVWA) petitioned the Inspector General Registration over several residents in the city being asked to pay double stamp duty, advocate Shirish Deshpande, chairman of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, a consumer rights organisation, has now joined the residents' fight.

Excerpts from a chat with Deshpande:

Can a case on double stamp duty be fought in a consumer court?
No, this is a policy matter and out of the purview of the Consumer Protection Act. Stamp duty is a sovereign function of the government. This needs litigation by the courts.

Shirish Deshpande
Shirish Deshpande

Can stamp duty be collected twice?
There is clearly a problem here and the IGR department needs to set this right. In their desperation, people might pay twice but it is wrong to make them do so. The duty was paid when the Development Agreement (DA) was signed by the housing committee office-bearers on behalf of the members. Why then, should they pay again? This is the crux of the matter.

Are people who have no individual agreements registered especially vulnerable?
Yes. Without an individual agreement registered, what is the property document that an individual has? Nothing. Many have moved into their redeveloped homes without individual agreements because the builder has stopped paying rent as his project is ready. It is a take it or leave it situation. They move in so that they can at least have a roof over their heads.

Meeting at DN Nagar, Andheri late on Wednesday evening. Pic/Datta Kumbha
Meeting at DN Nagar, Andheri late on Wednesday evening. Pic/Datta Kumbha

What then is the way forward?
We all have to come together to take this fight ahead, we have to chart out a game plan on what is next. I have joined this fight. Even the Developers Body must join as even they are, at times, pressured to pay twice. Now is the time to move full steam forward with elections around the corner. While changes in policy or new policies cannot be announced, because of the sheer numbers of the affected, the government may be forced to take cognisance or make a statement.

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