Mumbai: Court orders builder to pay buyer Rs 8.5 lakh for duping him out of 10 sq ft

Updated: May 26, 2017, 13:39 IST | Sailee Dhayalkar

Mumbai Consumer Court orders developer to pay buyer Rs 6.5 lakh for cheating him out of 10 sq ft, and an additional Rs 2 lakh for causing mental agony to the plaintiff

Nensey CHS in Bandra (W) was redeveloped by Ekta Supreme Corporation. Pic/Sneha KharabeNensey CHS in Bandra (W) was redeveloped by Ekta Supreme Corporation. Pic/Sneha Kharabe

In a true David vs Goliath victory, the Mumbai Consumer Court has brought a builder to book for cheating a buyer out of 10 sq ft - this humble space will now cost the builder more than Rs 6.5 lakh plus 18% interest calculated yearly.

Buyer Shabbir Lokhandwala
Buyer Shabbir Lokhandwala

In addition, the builder will also have to pay another Rs 2 lakh for mental agony caused to the plaintiff. The complainant, Shabbir Lokhandwala, who is currently settled in Canada, in his petition said that his mother was allotted a flat in Nensey Society, Bandra (W), once it had been redeveloped.

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But after the flats were made and the owners were given possession, Lokhandwala found that flat allotted to his mother was 10 sq ft smaller than the area mentioned in the agreement. The residential society allegedly paid no heed to his grievance either.

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While filing his complaint before the consumer court, Lokhandwala prayed that the opposing parties - the building management and the developer, M/S Ekta Supreme Corporation - be directed to provide the flat as per the original agreement, that is, 797 sq ft of carpet area, plus a dry balcony and a 80-sq-ft balcony. The complainant also claimed compensation for mental agony.

Allegations denied
The secretary of the building society responded, "Mother of complainant is entitled to flat having carpet area of 797 sq feet. It is denied that management of opponent does not pay attention to grievance of complainant."

Meanwhile, the developer in his written statement denied all allegations and said, "The complainant is not the consumer. The intention of the complainant is to harass the builder and to extort money, therefore this case is to be dismissed under Section 26 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986."

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The developer further stated, "The existing flat of the mother of the complainant was 647 sq feet of carpet area, including balcony area."

After filing replies, both parties tried to reach a settlement, but told the court it was not possible. An independent architect was appointed to measure the flat at the consent of the parties. The architect measured the flat on December 30, 2016. His report stated, "As per measurements, the carpet area of the said flat works out to 787.16 sq feet."

Court's ruling
Accordingly, the court in its order noted: "The complainant's mother was entitled to get a flat as per the agreement of 797 sq feet, and the actual area of the flat is 787.16 sq feet. The developer was under an obligation to give possession of flat as per agreement, however, failed to do so. The mother of complainant and other family members, including his ailing sister, were subjected to inconvenience due to deficiency."

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The panel, presided over by Judge SD Madake and member SV Kalal, directed the developer to pay for the missing 10 sq ft at the present market rate with interest at 18% per year from the date of filing the complaint. The court also directed developer to pay R2 lakh in compensation for the mental agony caused to the family.

The market rate is currently around R65,000 per square foot, which brings the price of the missing 10 sq ft to approximately Rs 6.5 lakh, along with the interest and compensation amount.

Speaking to mid-day, Shabbir said, "I don't need the money, I want my flat to be reconstructed as per the agreement."

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