If you are in Ahmedabad, Vadodara or anywhere else in Gujarat and if the builder cheats you, then God help you. Because the authorities won’t.
Technically, every Indian state must have the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) to deal with errant builders. There is one in Gujarat’s capital Gandhinagar too. But since October 2021, the RERA Appellate Tribunal in Gandhinagar has no full-time chairman or technical staff to conduct the bench or give judgments. It is almost as if the RERA Tribunal does not exist in the state.
A consumer with a grievance would have a tough battle on hand. “We had to file an appeal in the Tribunal but as it does not have members and the hearing did not take place. We had to move the Gujarat High court. It has been over seven months and our case is pending. For a middle-class family, it is really expensive to file a case in the high court,” a complainant said on request of anonymity.
To make matters worse, on November 11, Dr Amarjit Singh retired – at the age of 65 years – from RERA. There has been no replacement and as of now, RERA is being run by only two members. In December, a PIL was filed in the high court to appoint a RERA chairperson but Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, Aravind Kumar, did not take it up.
To fight a case in the high court is tougher than at the RERA tribunal, says Chetan Patel, a real estate consultant. “The cost is more and the procedure is tedious at the high court. At the RERA tribunal, even a chartered secretary can present your case, but for the high court, you have to appoint a lawyer. It also takes longer to get the judgment as there are pending cases in the high court,” he says.
Another real estate consultant says that these are the reasons many property buyers suffer in silence and hope for a settlement with errant builders. “The unscrupulous builders benefit from this because the avenues to complain are shut. The real estate industry has the maximum cash flow and black money. The system is encouraging such people by not appointing someone in the Tribunal and also in RERA,” he says.