Consumer Forums are not barred from entertaining RERA grievances: Supreme Court

Justice U U Lalit and Vineet Saran, hearing an appeal against a 2018 decision, have held that real estate developers can also approach authorities such as the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission or the Consumer Forum under the Consumer Protection Act.

The issue arises out of the agreement between builders, Imperial Structures and its buyers for a Gurugram housing project. Despite making substantial payments, the project was not completed on time. The Consumer Forum, approached by the buyers, had ordered refunding. The order was challenged by the developers stating the buyers do nott qualify as consumers and that RERA bars civil suit proceedings under section 79.

The Apex Court relied upon Malay Kumar Gandhi v. Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee to consider that the NCDRC is not a civil court. Further Section 71(1) of the RERA, 2017 allowed for  withdrawal of consumer complaints but did not impose an obligation on the same. It was held that withdrawal rights can not only be initiated under the RERA act but also under the Consumer Protection Act.
(MS Imperial Structures v. Anil Patni & Anr.)

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