BY JATIN RAMAIYA
Vernon Anthony Fernandes and several others had approached the Goa State Consumer Commission against Bharat Developers and Realtors Pvt Ltd and others seeking refund, compensation and costs as against the builder company and the others involved. It would worthy to note that these complaints pertain to the infamous ruby residency incident.Some complaints were pertaining to the buildings that have already collapsed while others were related to the buildings which were still standing.
The complainants apprehended that the buildings which are still standing would meet the same fate as the building collapsed. It was argued before the commission that since the government has declared all the buildings in the residency not fit for human habitation, the complainants are being penalised for no fault of theirs and that it is the reason they were entitled for refund, compensation and costs of the proceedings.
However, the builders argued the Jha Commission was appointed by the government to investigate the entire incident, and its report was yet to be made public. Therefore, they further argued that the complaints filed by the complainants were premature and in any circumstance they were ready and willing to reconstruct the collapsed flats and hand over the possession to the complainants at the same price, and the flats which were in the buildings which have not collapsed will be handed over to the complainants as soon as the seals are removed by the government. Moreover, the builders urged that the complainants had not paid the entire amount due, and moreover, the work of construction was contracted to another entity which was also arrayed as a party.
However, after perusing the records and hearing all the parties, the Commission held that it did not require to wait for the Jha Commission’s report to be made public and observed that, “it is not known when the Jha Commission report will be accepted by the Government and when the collapsed building along with the titled parts would be reconstructed. There has been gross deficiency in service by the party of OP No 1 in not providing flats within the stipulated time on account of collapse of the building. At present, the future of the Commission’s report is very uncertain. One does not know what action will be taken on it and when or whether any action will be taken at all. It will be just and proper, therefore, that OP No 1 is directed to refund the complainants’ amounts paid by them, with 18 per cent interest thereon and further pay compensation of Rs 50,000 towards mental agony and Rs 10,000 towards litigation costs.”