The Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court has nominated a senior judge to facilitate the constitution of adjudicatory bodies under the central act.
The counsel for the state government has informed the Supreme Court about this development while appealing to the top court to not entertain a recent application filed by the Forum for People’s Collective Efforts (FPCE), a pan-India homebuyers’ body that is aiming to push the implementation of RERA in the state.
According to FPCE, this is a step in the right direction and has come as a big relief for all homebuyers in West Bengal.
“We are now hopeful that with the intervention of the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, the appointments will be made soon to constitute the regulatory authority and the Appellate Tribunal under RERA that will pave the way for redressal of homebuyers’ complaints…,” Abhay Upadhyay, president, FPCE, told . “FPCE will continue to pursue RERA implementation in West Bengal and, if need be, will avail the liberty granted by the Supreme Court to pursue other remedies.”
Upadhyay is also a member of the Union government’s central advisory council on RERA.
The homebuyers’ body had recently moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to the state government to implement the RERA 2016 in the state within three months of such a direction from the apex court.
In May, following a petition filed by FPCE, the apex court struck down the constitutional validity of the West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act (WBHIRA). It ruled that the state Act is a parallel regime that cannot be upheld in light of the RERA 2016, which was enacted by Parliament.
“Last year, the landmark decision of the Supreme Court paved the way for the implementation of RERA in the state of West Bengal. Under the present order, it is expected that the state would, under its constitutional duty, take all steps to ensure that the central enactment is fully implemented,” said Advocate Devashish Bharuka, who is representing FPCE in the court.
The outcome of the Supreme Court ruling in May was that the state of West Bengal was required to fully implement the provisions of RERA.
In particular, the Real Estate Authority and Real Estate Appellate Tribunal were to be constituted and members appointed for the benefit of homebuyers.
However, the state has failed to fully implement the provisions of RERA, leading to the real estate sector being effectively unregulated in the state.
In July, the West Bengal government notified the rules governing the real estate regulatory authority in the state under Section 84 of the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016, a development that was seen as a step towards implementation of the central legislation in the state. Following this, the state also established the Real Estate Regulatory Authority and RERA Appellate Tribunal.
However, it has not constituted the authority and the tribunal by appointing members and chairpersons. FPCE also wants the court to direct the state to file a report after the law is put into place.
In July and August, FPCE had written to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) and West Bengal’s Ministry of Housing for effective and expeditious implementation of RERA in the state.
According to the petition from the FPCE, all RERA rules on registering projects and agents were being broken because there was no working authority.
West Bengal’s separate state housing legislation had received the Governor’s assent in October 2017, but the central government’s RERA had received the President’s consent earlier, in March 2016.
The Centre’s RERA was fully notified and implemented across the country – except in Jammu and Kashmir – on May 1, 2017. RERA has now been implemented in J&K as well.
In the backdrop of the central RERA, existing state legislations of Maharashtra and Kerala were also repealed. While repealing the state Act, the Kerala government had stated that if any provision of a law made by the legislature of the state is repugnant to any law made by Parliament, the state law would become void.