The Gurugram bench of Haryana RERA, which became functional on Tuesday, said any project that has not received an occupation certificate (OC) will come under its preview. Even projects which have received part-OC will have to register with the authority but the portion for which the document has been granted (say 2 towers in a society of 12) will be outside the ambit of the new real estate law.
Gurugram currently has 254 new and around 800 ‘ongoing’ real estate projects. The definition of ‘ongoing’ has been a subject of consternation for homebuyers who complained the law was being diluted to favour developers.
One of the demands they raised was inclusion of even those portions of projects that had received OCs under RERA.
Gurugram bench chairperson K K Khandelwal, along with two members — Sameer Kumar (retired IAS) and Subhash Chander Kush (retired chief town planner) — assumed charge on Tuesday and set up a temporary office of the authority at the newly-constructed PWD guesthouse on Railway Road near the court. They said a temporary website with basic information about H-RERA will be ready by Wednesday.
“Projects with single licence from the department of town and country planning (DTCP) and a single RERA registration, will need to have a single OC for the entire project. In case it has already been awarded a part-OC, then only those towers or portion of the project that have received the OC will be exempted, while the rest of the project will come under purview of RERA,” said Khandelwal, adding a case is pending before the Punjab and Haryana high court in this regard, and the matter will be settled once and for all when its verdict is out.
Khandelwal also said the authority will have powers of a civil court, whereby they can penalise and prosecute developers.“In case a developer violates its duties and functions, the authority can award up to three years of imprisonment and impose fine up to 10% of total project cost,” said Khandelwal, adding that similarly duties of agents and buyers are also defined, whereby they too face penalties up to 10% of unit cost.
Under provision of the Act, penalty and compensation will not be decided by the authority, but by a district judge or additional district judge. The chairperson said the authority’s focus is on protecting rights of all stakeholders of a real estate project. “Cheats will not be spared,” said Khandelwal, adding in case any of the parties are not satisfied with the authority’s order, they can approach an appellant tribunal, with the state government authorising the DTCP appellant tribunal as one for H-RERA. They can further approach the high court with their grievance as well.
On existing cases against a developer in consumer courts, Khandelwal said the authority will offer a better remedy. “It is up to allottees to continue with consumer court, or transfer their case to us,” he said, adding that a consumer court can only settle compensation and damage, while the authority has power to penalise and prosecute.
Regarding an official website for the authority, the chairperson said a temporary website with relevant information and format for filing complaints will be up and running by Wednesday. “Work on a dynamic and interactive website is in progress. In the meantime, home buyers will able to get necessary information from the temporary website,” he said, adding they will keep improving upon the website in the interim.
Khandelwal said one the biggest challenges facing H-RERA would be addressing a complaint within the 60-day deadline fixed by the authority. “For that, we need the complaint to be filed in prescribed format, with all relevant documents included,” he said, adding they have already received 200 complaints, most of which are not in proper order.
Clarifying that they are not going to reject any complaint, Khandelwal said they have appointed six law graduates to scrutinise a complaint and help the complainant file it following prescribed format — in the form of a writ petition, with copies for all three members, an office copy, and separate copies for each respondent.
Besides offices for members and their personal staff, the proposed authority office will have wings for accounts, administration, complaints, registry, and law. In total, around 52 officials will start working at the office, initially from 14 rooms of the guest house, with provision for staff numbers to be increased in future.