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Realty biz survives on home buyers' money; can't compromise their right to own houses: SC

PTI     July 23, 2019

New Delhi, Jul 23 (PTI) Real estate business in India has survived mainly on home buyers' money which cannot be allowed to be siphoned off by builders, the Supreme Court said Tuesday and asserted that the right of the middle class to own houses cannot be compromised. The apex court, which cancelled the registration of Amrapali Group under the Real Estate Regulation and Development Act (RERA) 2016, said the matter before it is of larger public interest as "several lakhs of home buyers have been cheated" by erring builders. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit said large number of projects have come up not only in Noida and Greater Noida but also in other places and most of them have not been completed by builders, who have siphoned off home buyers' money at a large scale. "The matter projects the issue of larger public interest. The real estate business has developed and it mainly survived by the money invested by the buyer for the purchase of the house. They have the right to obtain houses," the bench said in its 270-page judgement. It said that facts of the Amrapali case projected that Noida and Greater Noida authorities have allotted huge plots to the builders by charging a sum of approximately 10 percent and in most of the cases, no money has been paid thereafter. "No action has been taken by the Noida and Greater Noida Authorities against builders for cancellation of leases due to violation to fulfil their obligation," it said. Referring to the facts and circumstances of the case, the bench said, "It goes to indicate how at large-scale middle-class home buyers have been defrauded of their hard-earned money, taken away by the affluent and the officials in connivance with each other. Law has to book all of them." "We are hopeful that law will spread its tentacular octave to catch all culprits responsible for such kind of fraud causing deprivation to home buyers. It is shocking and surprising that so many projects have remained incomplete," the court said. The bench said that lakhs of home buyers have been cheated as if there is "no machinery of law left to take care of such situation and no fear left with the promoters/builders that such acts are not perceivable in a civilised society." It said that accountability is must on the part of everybody, every institution and in every activity. "We fail to understand the standard of observance of the duties by public authorities has gone so down that such frauds take place openly, blatantly, and whatever legal rights exist only on papers and people can be cheated on such wide scale openly, brazenly and with the knowledge of all concerned," it said. It said that home buyers cannot be made to suffer when the country is governed by law and have protective machinery. The bench directed the Centre and states to ensure that "appropriate action" is taken against erring builders for not completing projects on time. The top court delivered its judgement on a batch of pleas filed by the home buyers of Amrapali Group seeking possession of around 42,000 flats booked in various projects of the realtor in Noida and Greater Noida. PTI ABA MNL RKS SA

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