In a strong message to the builder community, the state consumer commission has sentenced builder Shekhar Dadarkar, proprietor of SD Constructions, to a maximum of three years in prison for failing to comply with an earlier order that had directed him to hand over a 1,270-sq-ft flat in Kandivali to a buyer.
The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission passed the order after it found Dadarkar had been “deliberately” disobeying its 2016 order by constantly seeking adjournments. By the time the order was passed, Dadarkar had already sold the flat to someone else.
According to the order, the builder’s only option to get out of prison before three years is to follow the original order and hand over a flat to complainant Arun Kejriwal, per the latter’s satisfaction.
“Only adjournments have been sought on the ground that the opponent (builder) will try to settle the matter with the complainant, but nothing has been done either to offer an alternative flat in the vicinity of the said building, or to get the flat vacated from the person to whom the flat was sold during the pendency of the consumer complaint. Under this circumstance, we are satisfied that the opponent has committed deliberate disobedience or is guilty of willful omission on his part to comply with the final order,” a panel of retired justice AP Bhangale and member SK Kakade observed.
Dadarkar is now in Arthur Road Jail as he was taken into custody immediately after the order was passed. He was held guilty under Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, according to which a person can be sentenced to simple imprisonment for a maximum period of three years for not complying with the consumer commission’s order.
According to the complaint filed through advocate Kiran Patil, Kejriwal, a lawyer himself, had booked a flat in 2005 in Dadarkar’s Kandivali project. However, when he did not get the flat, he approached the commission in 2007. By a 2016 order, the commission asked Dadarkar to hand over the flat, by which time he had already sold it to someone else.
The commission also asked Kejriwal to deposit the remaining amount for the flat – around Rs19 lakh – with in the commission. Kejriwal deposited the money, but did not receive a flat. He then filed an execution application with the state consumer commission in 2017. In 2018, the commission also recorded Dadarkar’s statement, where he kept saying he was trying to settle the matter. But he failed to hand over any flat to Kejriwal.