The Supreme Court on Thursday said, ‘The builder either sees the money or understands the jail sentence itself.’ The court made this observation while holding a real estate company guilty of contempt for willful non-compliance of its order. The court has imposed a fine of Rs 15 lakh on the builder.
Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice M.R. Shah’s bench noted that on January 5 this year, it had upheld the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission’s August 28 last year’s order directing the company to refund home buyers with 9 per cent interest.
“We have directed you on January 5 to return the amount within two months,” the bench said. Then you (builder) filed a petition seeking amendment in the order, which we rejected in March and directed you to return the money to the home buyers within two months. Now, again home buyers have come before us with contempt petition that you have not paid the money. We have to take some concrete step which should be remembered or someone will have to be sent to jail. Builders only see money or consider it a prison sentence.
The counsel for the realty company said that they have made RTGS payment of Rs 58.20 lakh today and a demand draft of Rs 50 lakh is also ready to be given to the home buyers. To this the bench said, “You had to pay in March but now in August you are saying that you are doing it now.” You have deliberately disobeyed our order, we cannot leave it lightly.’
The company’s lawyer said it apologizes for the delay and inconvenience. To this the bench said, ‘We do not find this apology acceptable. The builder has adopted all kinds of tactics to not comply with the order.
The Supreme Court said, “There was a willful and blatant disregard for the order of the Court. Therefore the respondent (builder) is held guilty of contempt. No proper reason was given for the delay in payment. We direct the petitioner (home buyer) to pay the entire amount and it should be done during the working hours of the day.
The Supreme Court asked the builder to deposit Rs 2 lakh to the home buyer for litigation expenses and Rs 15 lakh as fine with the Legal Services Authority.
Home buyers of group housing project ‘The Corridors’ located in Sector 67 of Gurgaon, Haryana had moved the consumer court seeking refund of the money paid to the builder for delay in getting the flats. Buyers say that they had paid Rs 62,31,906 to the builder. The agreement for this was signed on 24 March 2014. The flats were to be given to him in January 2017. But it got delayed.