NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered real estate developer Unitech to refund Rs 17 crore to 39 home buyers of its Gurgaon project Vistas for delay in delivery of flats. The refund would cover the principal component paid by the home buyers, but the top court is yet to take a call on the interest component. The case will be heard next on January 11. The original principal amount deposited by the buyers came out to be around Rs 16.55 crore. Unitech has already deposited Rs 15 crore with the court’s registry in compliance with an August 15 order. A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar on Wednesday directed the company to deposit Rs 2 crore more within four weeks.
“True it is, there is a saying, ‘Rome was not built in a day’, but it is in the realm of metaphor. The appellant (Unitech) by delaying or procrastinating the completion of the flats cannot base its stand on excuses or any subterfuge to advance the stand that the constructions take time,” the bench said, pulling up the developer. The court has asked homebuyers to start taking refunds on a pro-rata basis, as Rs 2 crore is yet to be deposited.
Advocate Pawanshree Agrawal, who represented aggrieved buyers, said, “While we are happy to get the refund, but the buyers went to court to get the verdict for the interest amount, decision on which has again been deferred.” Unitech said the amount being refunded, if ploughed back in the project, could help in giving homes to consumers. “We have recently enhanced our working capital and created escrow accounts for the projects with RWAs. Construction worker strength has been significantly enhanced by more than double in the last few months,” the company said in an email response to ET.
Launched in 2009, the project was to be delivered in December 2012. Unitech said it wanted to complete three towers by the end of April 2017 and hand over possession to some of the buyers by that time. The court, however, rejected all its contention. “It’s a judgement which is half fulfilled,” said Prasoon Dubey, a homebuyer in the project. “We should at least get a compensation amount so that we are able to buy a house of equivalent value now,” he said.
In June 2015, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) imposed a 12% penalty on Unitech for delay in delivery of flats in this project. The builder moved the Supreme Court against the NCDRC order in August 2015.
Unitech last month had submitted a revival plan for the project to Haryana government, and agreed to open an escrow account jointly managed by homebuyers’ representative and the builder.
Credits ET Realty