New Delhi Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, presided by C K Chaturvedi, asked Ansal Properties and Infrastructures Ltd to pay Delhi resident Bindu Verma Rs 5,82,224, which included 80 per cent of the money deposited by her and Rs 50,000 compensation.
Verma had booked a shop with the builder in its proposed project but the allotment was cancelled as no bank was ready to give loan.
The builder forfeited the woman's deposit of Rs 6,65,280, after cancelling the allotment, the forum noted.
"...We hold that Opposite Party (builder) should have returned the deposit by deducting usual 20 per cent from the deposited Rs 6,65,280. We hold Opposite Party deficient and direct it to pay 80 per cent of deposit made by complainant... We award lump sum compensation of Rs 50,000 for deficiency inclusive of litigation expenses," the forum, also comprising its member S R Chaudhary and Ritu Garodia, said.
The forum said that forfeiture of entire deposit was not justified and was unconscionable too.
It noted that the forfeiture clause in the agreement permitting 20 per cent of total cost could apply to a plan where full down payment was made but not to a plan where the payment had to come slowly, adding that no one can be compelled to pay, even if one cannot afford for any reason and seeks exit for various reasons.
"The forfeiture of 20 per cent of total cost will always be more than deposit, and in that event question arises will Opposite Party (builder) file a recovery suit for the balance, to complete 20 per cent of basic sale price. This will be unfair and absurd. It is unfair trade practice to forfeit the entire deposit," the forum said.
Verma had told the forum that she had booked a commercial space by paying Rs 6,65,280, out of total cost of Rs 33,26,400 in the proposed shopping mall in Greater Noida which was to be constructed by the builder firm.
The rest of the instalments were to be paid by arranging a loan, but it could not be made available since the builder's site plan was not sanctioned by that time, and no bank was willing to give loan, the woman said.
The loan could not be sanctioned till 2006, when the construction company cancelled her allotment and forfeited the entire deposit, she said.
She took up matter with the builder but despite assurances nothing was done and, therefore, she approached the forum.
In its reply, the builder stated that it repeatedly issued several demand letters to Verma but she failed to pay the due.
It said it was allowed to start construction in according with bye-laws by a January 20, 2005 letter of the authorities.
The firm contended that since it could not wait so long for the woman, it invoked a clause of agreement/allotment letter and forfeited the deposit.