In a landmark decision, Supreme Court of India has revealed that property buyers can now directly approach the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) for filing complaint against the developers just by forming a registered association. 

The Supreme Court of India on Feb 21, 2017 had made it clear that the home buyers can directly approach the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) for lodging any complaint against a builder. The buyers can now bypass multiple approaches in state and national consumer forums and enables the buyers to directly knock the doors of the national commission. The home buyers just need to form a registered association. The prime motive of this development is to offer a quicker, better and cost-effective way of dispute resolution.

The development is seen as an outcome of an appeal made by Amrapali Sapphire Developer challenging the right of a registered consumer association filing a complaint. The said association had lodged a complaint against the developer on behalf of multiple buyers of the same project. The apex court emphasized that the association is rightful in their approach and the focus should be on addressing their grievances. In addition, the court also put remark on the fact that Amrapali has received money from buyers; however, the buyers have neither allotted possession of the property nor have they been paid back.

There have been a series of allegations and counter allegations made by both the parties on the issue. First, around 100 property buyers of Amrapali Sapphire project in Noida filed a complaint in May last year before NCDRC. To respond to the call, Amrapali responded saying, “in order to file a complaint under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and association should receive recognition from the Bureau of India Standards.”

Further Amrapali challenged NCDRC should not entertain such complaints as the apartments were below Rs 1 crore and hence, the complaint should be made under the jurisdiction of the national commission. The complaint must be filed before the state commission in Lucknow. The Supreme Court also issued notice to the buyers’ association to file a response on Amrapali’s plea. However, the buyers’ association portrayed the developer’s appeal merely as a tactic to avoid/delay the proceedings before NCDRC.

In the later developments IN August 2016, NCDRC ruled in favour of the property buyers. On this, Advocate Rakesh Kumar, who represents Amrapali Sapphire Developer said, “The apex court did not entertain our appeals and dismissed the same. We will be continuing the proceedings in NCDRC.” Next, Amrapali approached the Supreme Court to seek a stay on the NCDRC order.