The Supreme Court on Wednesday told real estate major Unitech to refund the principal cost of flats to 39 buyers who had booked apartments in its Gurgaon project seven years back but are still to get possession.
A bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Amitava Roy and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said the issue of interest as well as compensation for the company's failure to deliver timely possession of the flats will be considered at the next hearing on January 11.
The total principal amount that Unites has to refund to the 39 flat owners is Rs 16,55,00,525.
The bench also asked Unitech to deposit Rs two crore with its registry. In pursuance to the court's earlier orders, Unitech has already deposited Rs 15 crore with the registry.
Justice Misra said Rome was not built in a day and that the foundation of any economy was "faith" that a buyer reposed in the seller.
"The property developer has to have a contractual commitment. Live up to the terms of contact and gain trust so that people who dream of houses can repose faith in them. The foundation of economy is faith; if faith is lost, everything is lost," the court said in its order.
"Be aware of the wrath of a patient man. Flat buyers have lost their patience," the court said later while hearing another matter relating to a real estate company.
The court order came after flat buyers rejected a Unitech offer on completion of three residential towers by April and allotment of flats thereafter as per the schedule submitted in the court.
As senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the real estate major will give an undertaking to adhere to the schedule, the flat owners said Unitech had given such schedule in the past also but never honoured it.
"The appellant (Unitech), by delaying the completion of flats, can't base its stand on nuances and rest on the metaphor that Rome was not built in one day," the court said.
The court noted the agony of the buyers as they told the bench that even after paying the entire amount they were still without a roof of their own over their heads and were living in rented accommodation.
Noting what different flat buyers present in the courtroom told the bench, the court said the buyers have in "unequivocal and categorical term (said) ... they can't wait any longer, for the appellant (Unitech) has not built the flats as assured and compelled them to land in such financial crisis that they had never imagined".
A woman flat buyer told the court that they have lost money. "Today is Karva Chauth and we are here. Please save us," she pleaded.
Another buyer said believing he would get possession of the flat as assured by Unitech, he got his child admitted to a school closer to the said complex, lamenting that his son was now spending four hours for commuting to and from school daily.
An uprooted Kashmir resident said he had lost his home in Kashmir and lost his job as well during his fight for getting the flat possession, for which he paid the entire amount seven years back.
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