Even if a consumer commission grants relief to flat-buyers by ordering a builder to refund money with interest after he fails to hand over possession, the builder can still be made to repay double the amount in a separate cheque bouncing case before a criminal court.
In two recent orders by a magistrate’s court, three directors of a construction company were directed to pay Rs82 lakh to two brothers who had paid Rs41 lakh for two Dahisar flats in 2014 but failed to get possession and the refund cheques bounced.
The directors of Prisha Developers Pvt Ltd, Sonali Ugle, Rajaram Bandekar and Kiran Gupte were also sentenced to six months’ imprisonment each in both cases. “…merely having order of consumer court in favour of complainant is no ground to show leniency to the accused,” metropolitan magistrate K G Sawant said.
The brothers had moved the magistrate’s court in 2016 filing separate complaints. While Anuj Kumar Jha (46) had booked a 503 sq ft flat for Rs54 lakh and paid around Rs16 lakh, his brother Pankaj (49) paid around Rs25 lakh for a 665 sq ft flat that he booked for Rs80 lakh. The Vile Parle siblings were to get possession in 2016. When the flats were not delivered by March 2016, the construction company executed an MoU for cancellation of booking of the flat. The cheques handed over bounced.
They said that they issued demand notices to the accused on May 2, 2016, calling upon them to pay the cheque amount, within the stipulated time. The notices to the directors were returned with the remark “Shifted” but a notice sent at their office address was returned with the remark “Intimation posted”, which the brothers said amounted to service on the accused. As the amount claimed in the notice was not paid by the accused, the brothers said that they were left with no option than to knock on the court’s doors. They filed the complainants on May 24, 2016.
After summons were issued, the accused pleaded not guilty.