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India Legal Bureau

The National Commission recently passed an order that’s good news for flat buyers who are kept waiting on the tenterhooks for their flats, despite having paid colossal amounts of their hard-earned money.

The Commission ordered Emaar Builders to return the entire amount paid to them in timely installments by a widow for a project in Hyderabad. She was also awarded “interest @ 10% simple interest from the dates of deposits till its realization.”

The lady had contracted to pay installments for the flats being built in Emaar Hills Township Land Ltd. The flats were to be ready in 36 months and possession was to be handed over as soon as the last installment was paid. The last installment was paid by her on November 20, 2010.

In the meantime, work on the project came to a halt due to a legal battle between Emaar and the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation. The builders received a notification dated October 8, 2010 after which the work stopped.

Nevertheless, they accepted the subsequent installment from the complainant without informing her of the delay that they knew would occur.

When she got to know that CBI investigations had been ordered against the builders and that the work would not continue she asked for the return of her money.

The builder’s contention is that it is a case of “force majeure”—something unforeseen and beyond their control and that eventually they would complete the project and therefore did not return the money.

Several cases were cited showing that where frustration of the contract is due to some fault by the party itself (in this case the builder) they cannot plead “force majeure”.

The court said: “Eight years have elapsed and she has not got the possession of her house. It cannot be said with guarantee that during her life time she would get this house or not. It is well-said that justice delayed is not only justice denied, it is also justice circumvented, justice mocked and the system of justice under mind.”  

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