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Builder’s objections on jurisdiction rejected

BY JATIN RAMAIYA

Vivek Gupta and other members of his family had approached the Goa State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission against the plea that the South Goa District Forum at Margao had committed an error by dismissing their complaints for want of jurisdiction by its order dated May 9, 2013. Factually, their case before the Commission was that they were residents of South Goa and they had booked flats in a project called “Shubhangan Floor Jaipur” in Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan.The Gupta’s had booked 3 units for Rs 10,00,000, Rs 12,00,000 and Rs 11,00,000 respectively plus Rs 20,000 towards interest free maintenance, security, etc. Furthermore, it was the case of the Gupta’s that  they paid amounts of Rs 1,02,575, Rs 1,23,090 and Rs 1,12,835 respectively by cheques dated August 3, 2011 drawn on HDFC Bank, Vasco da Gama in favour of the said company and got the necessary receipt from the said company acknowledging the payments.

It was further their case that the balance amount was required to be paid as per schedule but the said schedule was then changed which was not acceptable to the complainants as the work of construction had not commenced and thereafter there was exchange of emails between the Gupta’s and the agent of the company and as such the Gupta’s by their letters dated June 1, 2012 cancelled the agreement and sought a refund of the booking amounts. It was the case of the Gupta’s that since the company did not refund the amount they filed the complaint before the South Goa District Forum. However, the district forum dismissed the complaint on the count that the forum does not have jurisdiction since the company does not reside/has office within the jurisdiction of South Goa District Forum and the cause of action also did not arise in their jurisdiction and this view was taken by the forum basing on a judgement of the National Commission in the case of Subodh Kumar Baheti.

The commission held that, “It is now well settled that in a case of contract, the cause of action arises in the following places the place where the contract has been entered into, the place where the contract has been performed or is required to be performed under the terms thereof and the place wherein in terms of the contract any payment has to be made.” Furthermore, specifically, with regards to the case of Subodh Kuman Baheti, the commission observed that complainant has three options to invoke the jurisdiction of a Forum. The case at hand is not covered by clauses (a) & (b) of sub section (2) of section 11 of the C P Act but was entirely covered by clause (c) thereof to which no much attention has been paid by the district forum or even for that matter in the case of Subodh Kumar Baheti wherein there is no discussion at all on the expression “cause of action.”  The said judgment therefore has to be considered as per incurium and therefore need not be followed.

It was in view of above, facts and circumstances, the Goa State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, through its president Justice N A Britto opined that since the agreement was entered into at Dabolim and the payment was made from there and the receipt for payment was dispatched to Dabolim, certainly it can be said that at least a part of cause of action had arisen within the territorial jurisdiction of the South Goa District Forum.

Furthermore, whilst allowing the revision application filed by the Gupta’s the commission remarked that, “The OP cannot be expected to sell their units to various purchasers spread all over the country and thereafter cancel the agreements and expect them to come to Jaipur and file the complaints.”

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