With growing instances of disputes between purchasers and developers of real estate properties, the fundamental issues are either criminal or civil in nature. With the introduction of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority as a governing body to enforcement of the established norms and guidelines regarding real estate development. However, there has been a spurt in complaints against real estate developers on issues such as false promises and improper constructions among other severe issues. At times, police authorities have termed instances of cheating filed by complainants as an issue of ‘Civil Nature’ and the same was struck heavily by the Bombay High Court.
Justice S.J Kathawalla was hearing a petition filed by a Co-operative Housing Society alleging that the developer had failed to successfully complete the redevelopment project. As per the Petition, the Petitioner society had entered into a Development Agreement with the Respondent developer for the redevelopment work. After receiving the commencement certificate, the Respondent developer had agreed to complete the project within 28 months from January 2015. However, the Respondent developer, however, failed to complete the project within the stipulated time and also failed to make payments towards the agreed compensation. Upon approaching the senior officials of the Malad Police Station, the Senior Inspector informed it that this was a civil dispute, and did not take any action in the matter. Justice Kathawalla strongly opposed to this approach of the police officials stating as follows:
“I have in the past repeatedly recorded in my orders that the complaints filed by the members of the public alleging that they have been cheated by the developer cannot be termed as disputes of a civil nature, yet the police officials in-charge of the police stations are not ready to assist the common man when they seek police assistance and instead show them the door by terming their complaints as being civil disputes. Despite the above observations in my orders, I find that there is no improvement in the approach/conduct of the Senior Police Officers.”
After receiving a statement from the Senior Inspector of the Malad Police Station of further actions that would be undertaken, the case was adjourned and posted for the next date with the copy of the order forwarded to the Commissioner of Police, Greater Mumbai and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone XI.
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