New Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) A person seeking to buy a plot is a consumer and entitled to relief under the Consumer Protection Act for deficiency of services like delay in allotment, the apex consumer court has ruled while pulling up the Haryana government agency HUDA for harassing a Sonepat resident.
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission's presiding member J.M. Malik and member Vinay Kumar have rapped the Haryana Urban Development Authority's (HUDA) estate officer in Sonepat for trying to avoid giving relief to Ramanand Dhaka, a resident of Sewli village in the district. It rejected HUDA's plea that Dhaka was not a consumer within the terms of the act.
"The petition does not attempt to explain how the complainant is not a consumer or how is the complaint excluded from the purview of Consumer Protection Act. We, thus, have no hesitation in holding that the revision petitioner has completely failed to make out a case against the impugned order," the national commission said in a recent ruling, a copy of which is with IANS.
HUDA was also directed to pay a cost of Rs.10,000 to Dhaka.
The apex consumer court shot down the land agency's appeal against a state consumer commission order that upheld Dhaka's right to relief for delay in getting possession of a plot and giving him a plot smaller that what was mentioned in the allotment letter.
Malik also slammed HUDA for the delay in approaching the national commission.
HUDA's appeal shows "total lack of details in explaining a huge delay of 326 days. We, therefore, have no hesitation in rejecting it and holding that the delay of 326 days has not been sufficiently explained. The revision petition therefore merits dismissal on the ground of limitation alone", Malik said.
Dhaka, who was allotted a plot by HUDA in Sonepat Feb 6, 2001, said in his complaint that possession was not given to him despite regular payment of instalments for the plot. He also alleged that development works like street lighting, water supply and sewage system were not completed and so he sought allotment of an alternative plot, together with interest and compensation till the physical possession was given.
Dhaka approached a district consumer forum which allowed his complaint and directed HUDA to allot an alternative plot to him. The forum also directed HUDA not to charge any interest or penalty.
The state consumer commission also dismissed HUDA's appeal against the forum's decision.
"It is the HUDA which failed to develop an area and also failed to deliver the actual physical possession of the plot in question to the complainant. Moreover, the area of the plot No.242/7 allotted to the complainant was very less than the area as mentioned in the letter of allotment," the state commission said.
HUDA utilised the hard earned money deposited by the complainant for a long period and as such the deficiency of service on the part of HUDA had been established on the record, it said.
The national commission slammed the land owning agency for making self-contradictory statements in its appeal.
"In para 3 (of appeal) details of allotment of the plot are given, but in para 4 (g) of the revision petition, it is stated that both the fora below (state commission and district forum) have failed to consider the fact that the present dispute does not fall within the definition of consumer dispute," said Malik.
HUDA has the option of moving the Supreme Court against the national consumer commission's decision.
(Rahul Chhabra can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)