In a first, RERA accepts recorded call as proof

May 16, 2018, 07:07 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Aggrieved flat-buyer had recorded phone call with sales person of developer, which contradicted information given to RERA

Representational Image
Representational Image

Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) seems to be constantly evolving for the benefit of the consumer. For the first time ever, RERA has accepted phone conversations as evidence in an ongoing case.

Real estate lawyers and activists have welcomed the recent order of MahaRERA (RERA in Maharashtra), wherein it accepted a recorded telephonic conversation between a flat buyer, Naresh Bohra, and the developer's representative as evidence.

B D Kapadnis, member and adjudicating officer, MahaRERA, in his order dated May 9 (a copy is with this paper) observed, "The tape recorded conversation is evidence in the electric form and is admissible in any legal proceedings under the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act. The Bombay High Court has framed rules regarding the permissibility of admitting recorded conversations as evidence."

The project when it was advertised
The project when it was advertised

The complaint
Bohra had booked a 3BHK flat of 810 sq feet carpet area along with two car parks on April 27, 2016, in an upcoming project developed by M/s Radius & Deserve Builders LLP (Anantya) next to Eastern Freeway, Chembur, for Rs 1.78 crore. Of this amount, he had paid Rs 37.56 lakh. As per the allotment letter, possession was to be given by December 31, 2020.

Bohra, in his complaint, claims that the developer failed to register the agreement under RERA with the same terms and conditions and has even given false information to RERA.

Bohra had recorded a conversation with the senior sales executive of the developer on December 16, 2017, wherein the person acknowledged the facts as mentioned at the time of booking the flat.

Lawyer says
Advocate Nilesh Gala, who represented Bohra, said, "The client was not given any written date for allotting the flat at the time of booking the flat in 2016. At the time, he had paid 19.99 per cent of the flat amount, as per the Maharashtra Ownership Flat Act (MOFA). The documents could have been registered by merely paying 20 per cent of the cost, but in this case, the developer collected a lower amount to avoid MOFA implication, which would have mandated that the agreement be registered. Post the introduction of MahaRERA, which mandates registration of agreement on payment of 10 per cent of consideration, the developer was contacted to give the draft agreement copy, and to our surprise the date of possession was shown as 2024 instead of 2020. There were also a few other violations under MahaRERA, which we have challenged, including the building plan."

Gala added, "Bohra had called up the senior sales executive of the developer and recorded the conversation wherein the sales head admits the earlier representation made by her on behalf of the developer at the time of booking and we are the using the same as evidence."

"Also, we have challenged the date of possession on the basis of their own admission in their project registration done with MahaRERA, wherein it is 2020, which was revised to 2024," said Gala. The next hearing is on June 12.

Developer says
Advocate Vibhav Krishna, who represented the developer, said, "As the matter is sub-judice and our client is one of the parties to the proceedings, it will not be appropriate to make any comment at this stage. However, we shall pursue our rights in accordance with the law."

Experts say
Ramesh Prabhu,
housing activist
This is a landmark order and will definitely help consumers in future. Usually, builders/developers make a lot of false promises over the phone and try to lure innocent customers, and such recorded conversations will help the consumer fight their cases against errant builders.

Advocate Vinod Sampat,
RERA expert
It is a welcome move by RERA that such conversations will now be made admissible during hearings. It is common knowledge that at the time of sale, numerous verbal promises are made by developers/ representatives to flat purchasers.

Godfrey Pimenta
Advocate 
This is a very progressive order, as under the Indian Evidence Act both oral and written communication is admissible as evidence and the transcript of the said conversation can be used to buttress one's claim. This will be a huge deterrent henceforth, as flat buyers would otherwise find it a Herculean task to prove the flat purchaser's claim.

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