Recently, Punjab and Haryana High Court in its judgment dated October 16, 2020 (CWP No. 38144 of 2018) ruled that, homebuyers have the right and under liberty to undertake remedies, both available under Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 ("RERA")1 and Consumer Protection Act, 20192 ("the Act") concurrently.
The Court while considering a number of Petitions with respect to requirement of pre-deposit of amount under RERA, before entertaining appeals and certain provisions of the Haryana Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Rules, 20173 concerning the functions/duties of Adjudicating Officer, concurrently adjudicated upon other legal issues as well. The present verdict, with regard to concurrent nature of RERA and Consumer Forums, was passed along with it. Punjab and Haryana High Court, referring to the judgment passed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Pioneer Urban Land and Infrastructure Ltd & Anr vs. Union of India & Ors, (20194) observed that,
- Legal remedies available under various Statutes and Acts such as, RERA, the Consumer Protection Act 2019 and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016, are concurrent. It was also pointed out that, provisions under RERA are not solely exclusive, but shall run parallel to rest of the remedies available and National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission in MRM India Pvt Ltd and another v. Dr Dinesh Sharma and another5 held that,
- "it is not mandatory that a person, whose complaint is pending before the Consumer Forum, should have it transferred to the Adjudicating Officer under the RERA"
Considering the relevance and interpretation of Section 71(1) and Section 88 of the Act, the Court in its decision observed that, it is not necessary for the complainant to transfer complaint from the concerned Consumer Forum to the Adjudicating Officer.
Although, Section 71(1) clearly states that, in order to approach Adjudicating Officer, it is required by the complainant, to withdraw the complaint in question or opt out of Consumer Forum. However, considering the relevance of Section 88 of the Act, Section 71(1) needs to be read along with the former. According to Section 88 "the provisions of this Act shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, the provisions of any other law for the time being in force." Hence, a complainant has the liberty to opt one or can go for both the remedies available i.e., complaint before Consumer Forum and Adjudicating Authority all together.
In a different scenario, if such individual decides to withdraw his complaint from the concerned Consumer Forum before approaching Adjudicating Officer, the scope and ambit of the relief would be restricted to the compensation or interest. For rest of the reliefs, such individual will have to approach Adjudicating Officer.
5. [CM(M) 1244/2019 & CM Appl. 38052-38053/2019
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