The recent decision of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to slap a R630-crore fine on realty major DLF for abusing its dominant position is only a tip of the iceberg. If the records of the Delhi consumer court are taken into account, the maximum number of cases registered are against real estate companies.
Out of every 10 complaints which get registered at the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (consumer court) in Delhi, eight are against real estate players.
Currently, there are around 400 complaints pending before the consumer court with claims amounting to upward of R20 lakh. An official of the consumer court said: ?Roughly, more than 60% of the complaints received by the court are against real estate players and the number is rising with each passing day. Till date from January 2011 we have received almost 120 complaints.?
The nature of complaints ranges from unlimited delays in granting possession of houses to charging more than the price quoted at the time of the deal to increasing the number of floors.
According to the official, ever since CCI-DLF case hit headlines, the court has witnessed an increase in the inquiries regarding the procedure to file complaints, the success ratio, and the time taken in settling the cases.
Supreme Court lawyer ML Lahoty, who was the lawyer for the residents? associations in the case against DLF, said, ?Consumers not just from Delhi but from Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune and many other places have come to me seeking advise against the developers.?
Delhi State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission?s former president Justice J D Kapoor, however, maintained that the Consumer Act, under which consumer courts function, lacks teeth. ?The Act says that the consumer should get redressal within 90 days, but this is seldom the reality,? he said.
According to Confederation of Real Estate Developers? Associations of India (Credai) president Lalit Kumar Jain, transparency is a big issue with the developers. ?Most of the developers do not clarify the actual carpet area in their advertisements. Also, there are so many charges that they never mention (these) in their advertisements or their brochures. At the end of the day consumers feel cheated,? said Jain.