Case No. 109 of 2015. Case: Rajeev Nohwar Vs Lodha Group. Competition Commision of India

Case Number:Case No. 109 of 2015
Party Name:Rajeev Nohwar Vs Lodha Group
Counsel:For Appellant: Party-in-Person and Joydeep Sarma, Advocate and For Respondents: Gopal Menghani, President, Raunika Malhotra, Senior Vice President and Donnie Dominic George, General Manager
Judges:Devender Kumar Sikri, Chairperson, S.L. Bunker, Augustine Peter, U.C. Nahta, Members and G.P. Mittal, J. (Member)
Issue:Competition Act, 2002 - Sections 19(1)(a), 2(s), 2(t), 26(2), 4; Maharashtra Apartment Ownership Act, 1970 - Section 6; Maharashtra Ownership Flats (regulation Of The Promotion Of Construction, Sale, Management And Transfer) Act, 1963 - Sections 3(2), 4
Judgement Date:March 08, 2017
Court:Competition Commision of India
 
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Order:

  1. The information in the present case has been filed by Shri Rajeev Nohwar, a resident of C-1104, Park Titanium, Park Street, Wakad, Pune-411057, Maharashtra (hereinafter, the "Informant") under Section 19(1)(a) of the Competition Act, 2002 (hereinafter, the "Act") against Lodha Group, represented through Sahajanand HiTech Constructions Private Limited (hereinafter, the "Opposite Party") alleging, contravention of the provisions of Section 4 of the Act.

  2. As per the information, the Informant booked a 3 bedroom-hall-kitchen flat bearing No. 2001 on the 20th floor in 24th Tower with a carpet area of 1660 sq. ft., including 2 car parkings (hereinafter, the "Flat") in a project named Lodha Belmondo (hereinafter, the "Project") launched by the Opposite Party on the Pune-Mumbai Highway (hereinafter, "Pune Mumbai/Mumbai Pune Highway/Expressway") against a total consideration of Rs. 1,68,88,095/- (Rupees One Crore Sixty Eight Lakh Eighty Eight Thousand and Ninety Five Only) vide application dated 24th June, 2014. The Informant has alleged that at the time of booking, the Opposite Party had stated that the possession of the flat would be handed over in September, 2015.

  3. The Informant has submitted that since Lodha Group is not a juristic entity, it has been impleaded through Sahajanand Hi-Tech Constructions Private Limited, a special purpose vehicle (hereinafter, the "SPV") of the Opposite Party incorporated for the purposes of the project. The Informant has further submitted that the project was given huge publicity as a "Lodha Group's" project and all advertisement and representations regarding the project were made in the name of Lodha Group only.

  4. As per the Informant, the master plan of the project in the sales brochure, represented various amenities, e.g., large clubhouse, swimming pool, kids pool, outdoor play area, party lawn, Ganesha temple and meditation hall, cricket playground, 1 kilometer long riverside promenade with viewing docks, jetty, outdoor sports area having badminton court, tennis court, multipurpose court with basketball and volley ball, full size cricket ground, jogging/walking track, golf practice area and water ponds etc.

  5. It has been stated by the Informant that after booking of the flat, he had requested the Opposite Party for a copy of the Agreement to Sell (hereinafter, the "Agreement") together with the title documents, approvals etc. for perusal before the execution and registration of the same. However, the Opposite Party did not share the copy of the Agreement as well as other documents with the Informant.

  6. It has been averred by the Informant that, after much delay and on persistent follow up, the Opposite Party provided a copy of the Agreement to the Informant on 20th July, 2014. The clauses of the Agreement were allegedly found by the Informant to be in complete violation of various laws, including, the Maharashtra Apartment Ownership Act, 1970 (hereinafter, the "MAO Act"); Maharashtra Ownership of Flats (Regulation of the Promotion of Construction, Sale, Management and Transfer) Act, 1963 (hereinafter, the "MOF Act"); and the Standardised Development Control and Promotion Regulations for Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 (hereinafter, the "Town Planning Act") and also against the decisions of the Competition Commission of India (hereinafter, "the Commission") and of the Hon'ble Supreme Court.

  7. The Informant has alleged that the Opposite Party raised demands for further payments despite the fact that the Informant had already made payment of 20% of the consideration value, thereby violating Section 4 of the MOF Act which mandates that payments over and above 20% of the consideration value shall be made only after the registration of the Agreement. As per the Informant, refusal by the Opposite Party in sharing title documents, approvals, lease deed and other documents was in complete violation of Section 3(2) of the MOF Act, which mandates full and true disclosure of the title and encumbrances of the property.

  8. The Informant has submitted that the common amenities mentioned in the Agreement are in contrast with the facilities advertised and represented in the sales brochure initially, i.e., 50,000 sq. ft. of club house, gym, yoga centre, swimming pool, indoor kids playing areas, theatre, party hall and lawn, squash court, outdoor playing facilities like cricket, tennis, volley ball, basketball, jogging track, sit outs, river promenade, amphitheater, 9-hole golf course etc. The Opposite Party has also charged from the Informant and other buyers internal development charges for the development of these amenities. It has been alleged that the Opposite Party deliberately kept the aforementioned facilities out of the common facilities/amenities, so that these could be commercially exploited, which was in complete violation of Section 6 of the MAO Act and the Regulations under Town Planning Act, which mandate that, all common amenities of the real-estate projects ought to be handed over to its customers/apartment owners. The Informant has cited various contradictions/inconsistencies in the Agreement in comparison with the sales brochure in terms of withdrawal of benefits initially promised to be given to the prospective buyers including the Informant.

  9. The Informant has also cited various clauses/terms in the Agreement which are alleged to be one-sided, abusive...

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