MahaRERA has also imposed a penalty of Rs 5 lakh on Disha Direct for causing mental harassment to one of the buyers.
In a double blow for Disha Direct Marketing Services, which had shot to limelight a few years ago for its pioneering ‘second home’ concept, MahaRERA has asked the real estate player to refund investment along with interest to two home buyers who had booked flats in an Alibaug project that is far from complete.
The home buyers – Kalpana Berde and Shridhar Kamat – had invested money in Cidade De Vida, a nine-building project in Alibaug.
According to Berde’s compliant, he had booked flat 207 in building no. 7 in Cidade De Vida on December 2013 by paying Rs 9.25 lakh out of the total Rs 17.64 lakh. However, the developer failed to give possession as promised by December 12, 2015 and the construction of the project remains incomplete.
As the developer kept extending the possession deadline – first to December 12, 2019, and then to June 2020 – she sought to withdraw from the project.
After Disha Direct representatives failed to turn up for hearings since June 2018, MahaRERA member Madhav Kulkarni passed ex-parte order on Berde’s compliant, holding that a downturn in the real estate market leading to financial problems cannot be a justifiable reason for delay in the project.
“Ups and downs in market conditions is part of the business…if a business is entitled to prosper in good market conditions, in bad market conditions, he has to withstand the situation and continue with his business. He cannot put the customers to undue disadvantage,” Kulkarni said.
Allowing Berde to exit the project, Kulkarni directed the developer to refund the investment with 10.70 per cent interest from April 2012 till actual realization, and also imposed a sum of Rs 50,000 towards cost of the complaint and compensation.
In the other case, Shridhar Kamat had booked flat B1/411 in Cidade de Vida in and paid a sum of Rs 11.01 lakh by February 2016 on the assurance that he will get copies of the permission obtained for the project. But when he came to know through RTI that there was no permission for the fourth floor, he filed a complaint with MahaRERA, seeking a refund.
According to Kamat, Disha Direct, which also does marketing for other realty players, claimed that they could not return the Rs 11.01 lakh he paid, but they could book another flat in Nirvana Life Style Ventures’ Wolly Wood project in Palghar. The cost of the flat was quoted as Rs 18.25 lakh.
Kamat then withdraw his complaint in January 2018, and signed an MoU for the Palghar flat.
He deposited Rs 51,000 with Nirvana Lifestyle Ventures and also applied for a bank loan of Rs 6.73 lakh. However, the developer failed to execute an agreement for sale within the next 150 days and has since then, failed to give possession of the flat.
Disha Direct pleaded not guilty and sought adjournment for settling the grievance, but later did not respond to Kamat. It also failed to file a reply in defence. Holding the developer guilty of fraudulent act and unfair practice, MahaRERA member Bhalchandra Kapadnis noted, “… the respondents gave false promises by entering into MoU and made the complainant withdraw his previous complaint.”
He took note of the fact that Kamat is an elderly person, whose wife suffers from cancer and his son is set to travel to the US for education. He then imposed a sum of Rs 5 lakh on Disha Direct as compensation for causing mental torture to the complainant.