MahaRERA Slaps One Lakh Penalty on Developer Niraj Kakad Constructions for Mental Harassment of Homebuyer
MahaRERA has awarded Rs one lakh as compensation to a homebuyer for delayed possession and mental harassment. The developer Niraj Kakad Constructions will have to pay this penalty to the homebuyer for mental harassment and not being able to deliver possession for over six years after payment of the first installment. The developer has also been directed to refund Rs1.52 crore with 10.40% per annum (p.a) interest from the date of payment (2014 onwards).
 
The senior citizen homebuyer, Sachhanand Tejwani had booked flat number 601 in Devi Kakad Solitaire project near Sindhi Society in Chembur in his daughter Sneha’s name. He paid 85% of the total flat cost of Rs 1.65 crore in tranches since 2014. The agreement for sale was signed in June 2016 with the promise of giving possession on or before 30 August 2017 with a rider for a 6 months grace period.
 
As per Mr Tejwani, when he approached the developer for possession in September 2017, he found only eight slabs out of 15 had been completed, and the work had stopped due to technical issues and lack of further permissions from the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. The developer promised to deliver possession but Mr Tejwani discovered that that the owners of the land, on which this redevelopment project stands, had terminated the 2013 development agreement with the developer and arbitration proceedings were on. 
 
Mr Tejwani demanded a refund of his money, but the developer did not agree, hence Mr Tejwani filed a complaint with MahaRERA in 2019. 
The counsel for Niraj Kakad Constructions argued that the complaint be dismissed as MahaRERA had extended the completion timelines to 26 June 2020 and hence the complaint was premature. The lawyer admitted that the arbitrator had given his ruling on 26 April 2019 and the developer had challenged the ruling. 
 
The lawyer claimed that Niraj Kakad Constructions was unable to complete the project due to illegal termination of the development agreement on 1 December 2016. The lawyer further provided various other reasons (demonetization, imposition of GST, overall slowdown in the real estate sector) for the inordinate delay in the project completion.
 
MahaRERA member held that Mr Tejwani was entitled to withdraw from the project and get their money refunded with interest. He pointed out that the developer had a period of about 21 months till February 2018 to deliver the project and 85% of the flat cost had already been received by the firm.
 
Mr Kulkarni noted that the property card showed that the land belonged to Sindhi Immigrant Cooperative Housing Society, and the IOD (intimation of disapproval) was issued in the name of the society secretary. He said the clause E in the agreement stated that Tulsibai Jagasia, and two members of her family held the leasehold right of the property. They signed a development agreement with Niraj Kakad Constructions in August 2013, obtained the IOD in December 2010 and revised IOD and CC were obtained by the society in November 2013. On 1 December 2016, Jagasias terminated the development agreement on the ground that the developer violated the agreement by selling flats including the flat of Tejwanis behind their back, according to the order. 
 
The order says “The notice issued by Jagasia family shows that respondent entered into an agreement with the complainant without complying with terms of development agreement. Thus it was the respondent who was at fault in not complying with terms of development agreement. Respondent cannot take benefit of the wrong committed by him”. 
 
Mr Kulkarni overruled the generic argument that the project was delayed due to demonetization, GST, slowdown in the market. 
 
The housing regulator said “However, respondent had received as much as 85 per cent of the consideration amount from the complainant. Now we are in the year 2020. Respondent is still not in a position to hand over possession.
 
There are no justifying reasons for the delay and the respondent must blame himself for the arbitration award which went against him” while awarding the refund subject to the final High Court orders in the arbitration case. 
 
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    80% consumers look forward for festive shopping: Survey
    The upcoming festive season comes with a hope for the retailers as they have been severely hit by the pandemic. A survey by the Retailers Association of India (RAI) and LitmusWorld shows that around 80 per cent Indian consumers are looking forward to buy products during the upcoming festive season.
     
    The 'Festive Shopping Index 2020' shows that around 75 per cent of the consumers would be shopping online and around 66 per cent would also consider shopping at stand-alone stores and 37 per cent want to visit malls. The survey observed that the trend reflects the rise of omni-channel shopping.
     
    "While online is the primary mode of discovery, consumers are looking forward to purchasing at physical stores," said a joint statement by RAI and LitmusWorld.
     
    Commenting on the festive shopping sentiments, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of RAI, said: "Retailers are looking at the festive season with some amount of cautious optimism. We believe that all formats of retail will see resurgence but on an omni-channel basis."
     
    He said that customers do feel the need to reconnect with a sense of cheer and are slowly coming out to shop.
     
    "However, they may not shop in the same way they have been shopping all these years. There is a lot of reliance on what is being shown to them digitally," he added.
     
    The survey found that having been confined to their homes for so long away from relatives and friends, there seems to be some excitement around gifting, highlighting the need to rekindle relationships and reconnect. About 23 per cent respondents expressed their intent to purchase gifts along with items for their personal use.
     
    It revealed that 53 per cent of the respondents wanted to buy apparels and about 47 per cent wanted to get home appliances and electronics.
     
    The customers would prefer paying through digital modes of payment such as credit cards, debit cards, mobile wallets and UPI.
     
    "In spite of the pandemic, the Indian consumer is still very excited for the festive shopping season and that's a big positive for retailers. However, the industry will need to respond with interesting value propositions and superior customer experience across offline and online channels to boost festive demand and increase the wallet share of consumers," said Khushaal Talreja, Head of Marketing & Partnerships, LitmusWorld.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    Beware: The Sham of Consumer Grievance Redressal
    Most manufacturers and service providers have email IDs where customers can send in their complaints regarding unsatisfactory products or services.
     
    Write to them, and you promptly get a response with a PR spiel, saying “Thank you for writing to us. We are looking into your grievance and strive to serve you better.” That calms you down and makes you feel good—but what is the response in reality?
     
    It is an 'auto response' acknowledgement, triggered not by any human being actually reading your complaint but by the computer, automatically, irrespective of the nature of your complaint. And that’s it. Often, nothing further happens. This is a fraud on customers. 
     
    I bought a 500gm (grammes) pack of Nilgiri butter costing Rs265 and took it home, only to find that it was covered with spots of black fungus. Returning to the supermarket where I bought the stuff, along with the bill, meant extra exertion and harassment (I am 80 years old). The store said it will forward the defective goods, along with my complaint, to the manufacturer. I returned home and also sent off an email complaint to their grievance cell, on 24 September 2020, and promptly, within hours, came an acknowledgement saying “Thank you for contacting us.  Your feedback is important to us…We are looking into your complaint. Our customer care team will respond within a maximum of two days…”. 
     
    That was it. It’s a standard, automated acknowledgement and means nothing. Perhaps no human employee at the factory even reads the complaint. Only the machine triggers an automatic acknowledgement.  
     
    Nothing further happened, even after three weeks.  (What was that spiel about “maximum of two days”?) So what is the point in having a grievance cell, or a customer care team, or complaining to it? Just a PR initiative? Do you keep on sending reminders, spending time and effort, or give up? Most customers would want to be pragmatic and opt for the latter.
     
    I remember sending an email to Airtel, seeking a recharge clarification, and got an automated response asking me to call 121 as they needed more information. What more information, when I have already given all relevant details? I also requested a reply by email as I have a hearing problem (and telephone conversations become difficult). Once again the 'automated' reply came in by email asking me to call. So, does no one even read customers’ complaints? 
     
    My mobile was given to me by my daughter for her to call and check if I am OK, I don’t make outgoing calls (I have finger coordination problems in punching keys. The only two outgoing calls I made were to my daughter, by just pressing the button on her incoming number—for which Airtel has deducted over Rs500 from my prepaid balance.)  
     
    I complained again. It made absolutely no difference to Airtel; again and again, I got the same automatic reply asking me to call. What does one do, especially if one is a senior citizen with restricted mobility? I did get two calls from Airtel employees (after a consumer protection organisation contacted them on my behalf) but it made no difference—no apologies, much less solutions, were offered.
     
    I have with me a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) announcement saying that telecom service-providers cannot arbitrarily hike charges. Who cares? Airtel nearly doubled its 28 days validity extension charges from Rs23 to Rs45 last year.  
     
    TRAI could do nothing. So what does it regulate? 
     
    Telecom companies owe the government a huge amount— Rs1.6 lakh crore—in arrears as adjusted gross revenue. The Supreme Court has given them 10 years to pay up. Citizens stand helplessly by, completely at the mercy of companies that show scant respect for customers’ rights (or the regulatory authority’s mandate).
     
    Why do I need a mobile when I am housebound and have a landline? Because for many transactions (including bank operations and booking cooking gas) one has to provide a mobile number. You don’t exist if you don’t have a mobile. This is crazy. 
     
    I did think of migrating to another service-provider, but got an email from Airtel asking me not to do so (apparently my form requesting migration had been referred by BSNL to the Airtel office.) They want business, right? But business without ethics, so that they can fleece the customers. 
     
    Last year, when I asked for a validity extension of Rs45 (hiked from Rs23)  I was charged Rs49. Why?  Where does that extra Rs4 go? My query has not fetched any explanation till today.
     
    I sued Airtel some years ago (when I was mobile enough to attend court) and was awarded compensation for harassment. The magistrate even remarked in open court that Airtel should be “ashamed to harass a senior journalist and elderly person.”  
     
    The chastisement apparently did not bother Airtel. I wrote to the boss, Sunil Mittal at the suggestion of a former senior telecom official (now a consumer activist). My message bounced, marked 'undeliverable!' 
     
    In an ancient fable, a cow could tug at a rope installed at the gates of the king’s palace for people to bring their grievances to the notice of the ruler. We are a democracy, and supposed to be “better than monarchy”, right?
     
    Public apathy and helplessness condones unethical business practices. Where a single, isolated complaint may get overlooked by unethical businesses, perhaps we should think of strength in  numbers—India had  1.1514 billion mobile connections at the last count, almost one for every man, woman and child—and  must insist on proper, meaningful  grievance redressal for customers with complaints.
     
    (Dr Sakuntala Narasimhan is a Bengaluru-based senior journalist, writer, musician and consumer activist. She is a renowned senior vocalist in both traditions of Indian classical music - Hindustani and Carnatic, an A-graded artiste of All India Radio in both traditions. She is also a musicologist and author, and has written a book on the Rampur gharana.)
     
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    COMMENTS

    saharaaj

    2 weeks ago

    This complaint could be repeated by Lakhs. Telcos are notorious i am customer of 18 years of VI . their arbitrary change of classification i complained the fellow will ring even if i have told travelling and can not take call , e-mail will arrive in 5 mts ur complaint resolved ... same complaint i repeated N times all along caller will literally say HELLOW and confirm by e mail issue resolved.
    Look at electricity complaint on paper all institutions are in place in face all embellished and decorative .. manned by retired employees of the service providers . selection legal but ethical ??? no prize for guessing . all talk of due process of law; problem law does not take its it course till people take recourse to Streets under ANNA Hazare

    ssk.pab

    2 weeks ago

    I fully agree with Ms Sakuntala Narasmihan!
    To the list of all the manufacturers and service providers you may also add the Banks and even RBI .
    The biggest Private Sector Bank can hot list your International Bank card with total impunity - without any fault of yours and due to their own fault - when you are out of country leaving you high and dry in a foreign land and when you write to them upon return to the country they don't even bother to reply!!!
    You go to Banking Ombudsman with a complaint and BO tells you your complaint does not come under BOS 2006!!!
    You cmplain against BO to CEPD - the designated department that has to look into any complaint against any RBI department, and your complaint gets routed to the same BO who originally rejected your complaint as not coming under BOS 2006- so, RBI simply believes in setting up KANGAROO COURTS and when you protest, they don't bother to reply even after six months!!!!!
    That is the state of SERVICE CITIZENS ARE GETTING FROM THE GOVERNMENT THAT IS SUPPOSED TO SERVE THE CITIZENS............

    Rupesh Chatterjee

    2 weeks ago

    In my experience, the only establishment in our country, that addresses customer greviences with due diligence is Amazon.

    Every employee who works there, from the shelf stacker to the door deliverer knows that customer satisfaction is something Amazon's board of directors values dearly, this drives them to work and contribute their best to honour the companies core values resulting in a top class experience for their customers.

    REPLY

    Sebastian PD

    In Reply to Rupesh Chatterjee 2 weeks ago

    Amazon do reply only to justify their wrong doings. In India, there is always a demand-supply deficit, so consumers are at the mercy of suppliers.

    Newme

    2 weeks ago

    Typical Indian consumer experience whether 80 or 20 age doesn\'t matter.
    That\'s why bulk of Indians prefer prepaid and never trust postpaid billing.

    Regarding telecom license fees due to government, why not make them park their revenue into an escrow account and government first take their fees and then the companies take out the remaining?

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