On Friday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court remarked that a homebuyer can seek remedies under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 as well as the Consumer Protection Act, simultaneously.
The bench comprising of Justices Dr. S Mularidhar and Avneesh Jhangan made the above observations while considering few petitions challenging the condition of pre-deposit under the RERA and certain provisions of the Haryana Rules relating to the role of Adjudicating Officer, which were ultimately upheld by it.
Subsequently, the bench held that it is not mandatory that a person, whose complaint is pending before the Consumer Forum, should have it transferred to the Adjudicating Officer under the RERA. Nonetheless, the court clarified that if a complaint before the Consumer Forum is withdrawn and presented before the AO, the scope of the relief would be limited to the compensation or interest.
“If, however, such a person opts to withdraw his complaint before the consumer fora to come to the AO, the scope of the relief he seeks would be limited to the compensation or interest. He will, therefore, have to make a conscious decision. If the relief he is seeking in the complaint before the consumer fora are in addition to seeking compensation or interest in the form of compensation, for instance, a refund of the amount and interest thereon, then he will have to make a conscious decision on restricting his relief before the AO to one of compensation or interest by way of compensation. For the remaining reliefs, he will have to go before the Authority,” read the court order.
Further, the court also noted that the proviso of Section 71(1) is an enabling proviso, which empowers a person whose complaint is pending in the consumer forum under the Consumer Protection Act to opt for withdrawal of such complaints to go before the AO.
“As far as the proviso to Section 71 (1) of the Act is concerned, it is an enabling provision. It enables a person whose complaint is pending in the consumer fora under the CPA to opt to withdraw such complaints to go before the AO. However, this has to be read along with Section 88 of the Act, which clearly states that “the provisions of this Act shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.” It is, therefore, not mandatory for a person, who has a complaint before the consumer fora to have his complaint transferred to the AO. He can pursue both the remedies simultaneously on the strength of Section 88 of the Act,” stated the bench.