The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) has issued an arrest warrant against the MD of embattled Supertech Group. The order by the apex consumer panel came, in a case where the company failed to deliver its housing project in the Yamuna Expressway area of the NCR.
In its order issued on September 20, 2021, the NCDRC said that its order, under which it has ordered a three-year jail time for Supertech MD Mohit Arora, be complied with within a week, if the company failed to refund Rs 1.76 crores to Brigadier Kanwal Batra (retired) and his daughter Aakriti Batra, by that time.
“In view of the non-compliance of the direction and dishonouring his own commitment, we sentence the MD of the company, as per powers under Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, for three years’ imprisonment and issue warrants of arrest,” the consumer panel said.
The commission had, in April 2021, issued bailable warrants against Arora in the case but cancelled it after Arora assured the panel that the company would give possession of the villa within 60 days.
“We have the highest respect for the commission. We will comply with the commission’s order by Thursday. Supertech will initiate the process on Wednesday (September 22, 2021) and will complete compliance by depositing the money by Thursday (September 23, 2021),” Arora told the media after the NCDRC order on September 20, 2021.
Supertech quickly moved the Delhi High Court after the September 20 order of the NCDRC but the HC refused to interfere or stay the order. Under Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, consumer courts can order arrest and impose a jail term of up to three years, over non-compliance of its orders.
It is pertinent to mention that Supertech is already in deep waters following demolition orders given by Supreme Court for its 40 storey twin towers at Noida.
(The Case History)
The Supreme Court Tuesday directed demolition of two 40-storey towers of Supertech Ltd Group in NOIDA, comprising about 850 flats, finding that they flouted regulations regarding distance to be maintained between buildings and of fire safety. The court also held that the towers, in the National Capital Region, were constructed “through acts of collusion” between officials of NOIDA (New Okhla Industrial Development Authority) and the group, and gave the go-ahead for prosecuting them.
Upholding a ruling by the Allahabad High Court, the Court directed the two towers, Apex and Ceyane, in Supertech’s Emerald Court project, to be demolished within three months, with the expenses to be borne by the developer. Supertech will also refund all those who had purchased flats in the towers within two months at an annual interest rate of 12%, the Court said. Besides this, Supertech has been ordered to pay Rs 2 crore to the Residents’ Welfare Association of 15 other towers constructed as part of the original plan, which was then revised multiple times and the twin towers squeezed in.
A Bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah held that the purpose of the Uttar Pradesh Industrial Area Development Act, 1976, and Uttar Pradesh Apartments Act, 2010, was to ensure protection of the environment and the well-being and safety of residents. Illegal construction has to be dealt with severely, the Bench said, adding “When these regulations are brazenly violated by developers, more often than not with the connivance of regulatory authorities, it strikes at the very core of urban planning, thereby directly resulting in an increased harm to the environment and a dilution of safety standards.”