MUMBAI: The state police has directed police stations across Maharashtra to register complaints against errant builders who cheat flat buyers and violate building norms. Housing experts have welcomed the movetermed by CM Devendra Fadnavis as “a good decision” but which the real estate industry finds “disturbing”.
In a circular issued last week, special inspector general of police Prabhat Kumar instructed police commissioners in the state to take action according to the provisions of law when people file such complaints.
The circular said complaints include builders failing to hand over possession on time to buyers or developers who deliver apartments without procuring the mandatory building occupation certificate.
It also mentioned builders who build beyond the sanctioned plans or those who build illegally. The circular further also sought action against developers who accept 20% of the flat price but do not register the agreement, or those builders who fail to form a housing society within the stipulated four months after handing over flats to the buyers.
When contacted, Prabhat Kumar told TOI that a delegation had recently made a representation to the DG of police pointing out the legal provisions that the police can use against errant builders.
Housing experts said there have been innumerable cases where harried flat purchasers have had a harrowing time at police stations when they go to file complaints. They accused a section of the police officers of being hand-in-glove with unscrupulous builders.
Housing activist Chandrashekhar Prabhu said, “This has been our long-standing demand to convince police authorities to take cognizance of such complaints.” He added that complainants are “ill-treated” at police stations.
“It seems as if they work for builders and not the state. Several of my public meetings against certain builders have been denied permission by the local police in different areas of the city,” he alleged. Many aggrieved flat buyers accuse the economic offences wing of the police for taking such complaints lightly.
Sudip Mullick, a partner with the construction practice of law firm Khaitan & Co, said the circular is a “proactive step by the police, a push from the top to take such complaints seriously”.”It appears that this move is to pre-empt the perception that police do not act unless there is a directive from the court,” he added.
Dharmesh Jain, president of MCHI-CREDAI, a body representing the interests of builders, said, “This circular is disturbing. In real estate there are many stakeholders and many issues are beyond our control.”Jain added, “Holding builders solely responsible is a dangerous sign for business, especially when there are frequent changes in building rules and regulations. We will talk to the authorities and seek a clarification.”
Khar-based developer Sanjay Devnani described the police circular as “dangerous”. “It opens the builders to blackmail from all sections. Most projects get delayed due to changes in rules and delays by the BMC,” he said.
“The circular should include everyone responsible for the breaches and not just the developer. There are society members who trouble builders by lodging false complaints and blackmail them for their personal gains,” said Devnani.
The police circular mentions that action can be taken against builders under the Maharashtra Ownership Flat Act (MOFA)-1963. But a senior government official told TOI on Sunday that MOFA has been scrapped by the state government and the police had erred by mentioning this Act in the circular.
“MOFA has been superseded by the new Real Estate (Regulation &Development) Act 2016 (RERA),” he said. However, Mullick, the real estate expert from Khaitan & Co debunked this claim and said the old law, MOFA, is still in force in the state.
“The government has only notified certain sections of RERA. The relevant sections of the new Act (like provisions of action to be taken against builders for delay, etc) have still not been notified by the state. MOFA has not been repealed,” he said.
* Failure to hand over possession on time to buyers
* Not getting occupation certificate before delivery
* Building beyond sanctioned plans
* Not registering agreement after accepting 20% of flat value
* Failure to form a housing society within four months.
Credits ET Realty