NRI complains against Mumbai builder at Consulate in Dubai
Ashish Shukla has accused the builder of cheating by accepting flat bookings for a construction project that was subjudice; the project has now been shelved
Ashish Shukla had paid Rs 26 lakh in booking fees
Three years after he invested in his dream home in Naigaon, a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) from Dubai has been fighting a nightmarish battle to get his money back after the construction came to a standstill. With no help from the MahaRERA (Maharashtra Real Estate and Regulation Authority), the expat has now filed a complaint with the Consulate General of India in Dubai. After his complaint, the Consulate has written to the Mumbai Police Commissioner to conduct an inquiry in the case and take action.
In 2015, Ashish Shukla, 30, paid Rs 26 lakh as the booking amount for two 1BHK flats in AVF Greens, an under-construction project at Naigaon East by AVF Realty. The developer had proposed to build five buildings of nine storeys each and hand over the flats to homebuyers by 2017.
High court ban
Work started in 2015, but came to a halt in 2016, because of the Bombay High Court's ban on any construction in wetlands. At that point, construction had been done till plinth level. Shukla accused the builder Hussain Boxwala from AVF Realty and promoter Amit Agarwal of RR Marketing of cheating him and hiding the fact that the project was subjudice.
Last October, mid-day had reported how RERA was of little help, since the project was not registered with the regulatory body. RERA asked the builder to refund Shukla's payment, to no avail. Shukla said, "Even after RERA's intervention, the builder is yet to pay my money. I did some research and found out that a PIL had been filed against all projects in the area since it was notified as a wetland. HC stayed all such construction in 2013." "I made the booking in 2015, and some even booked flats in 2016. The builder and promoter both did not reveal that there was a pending court case and merely took our money. This is nothing but cheating," said Shukla.
Shukla also filed an online complaint to chief minister's office about this issue. "Last year, the builder sent me a letter regarding a refund, but nothing happened. The promoter said he is not responsible for refund," he added.
Another homebuyer, Surekha Valunju, filed a case against the developer after her refund cheque bounced. Surekha had given a token amount of Rs 5 lakh to the builder in 2016 for a 1BHK flat in the same project. "Last October, the builder gave me a cheque for Rs 2.5 lakh, but it bounced. I sent him a legal notice, after which he refunded Rs 1.5 lakh. I filed a case against him for the bounced cheque, and am yet to receive the full amount."
The other side
Builder Hussain Boxwala told this paper, "I am paying all homebuyers who have requested a refund. Shukla is expected to visit India this month, so I will meet him and resolve the issue. However, the amount he is demanding is exorbitant; he wants twice the original booking amount. I am willing to pay the standard 12% interest. I will pay Surekha the rest of her money this month."
He added, "The project was started with the permission of the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC), but got stuck due to the wetlands issue. The current status of the real estate market is not good, so I have had some difficulties, but will pay everyone." The promoter, Amit Agarwal, said, "We started the work after getting the commence certificate (CC). It's not just the homebuyers, we too are facing the heat financially. It's not our fault that the government policy changed."
Rs 26L Amount he paid as booking fees for 2 flats