You have the following options
buyer who is the victim of the unfair practices of the builder can approach the following forums for his redressal:
1) Civil Court
The Supreme Court has held that a consumer has the right to approach the Civil Court or the Forum under the Consumer Protection Act for relief in a situation where the builder commits breach of his obligations.
2) Consumer Forum under The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 . A person who applies for allotment of building site or for a flat constructed by the Development Authority or entered into an agreement with a builder or a contractor is a potential user and the nature of construction is covered in the expression “service” of any description. Thus, the Consumer Protection Act provides protection against the malpractices of the builders and developers. Any person dissatisfied by the services or delayed delivery of possession can approach the consumer forum for his redressal. The consumers can approach the Redressal Forums for deficiency in service at different stages of housing.
The Consumer Protection Act provides a three tier machinery for redressal of consumer grievances. The District Forum is at the lowest level. The District Forums are established in each District and have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods or services and the compensation if any, claimed does not exceed Rs.20, 00, 00 (Twenty Lakhs). The State Commission is established in each state and have jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of goods or services and the compensation if any, claimed exceeds rupees twenty lakhs but does not exceed rupees one crore. The National Commission has jurisdiction to entertain complaints where the value of the goods or services and compensation if any claimed exceeds rupees one crore. A consumer can file a complaint in the consumer forum against the builder/developer. The complaint must be filed within two years from the date of the dispute.
In a recent landmark judgment the Supreme Court has held that when the possession of the property is not handed over to the allottee in time it amounts to denial of service and the allottee, who has been affected by the delay in delivery of possession is entitled to compensation.
In another landmark judgment the National Commission has held that the allottee is entitled to opt out of a project if there is a delay in delivery possession of the house by the real estate developers. It was also held that the allottee is entitled to a refund of the entire money with reasonable interest and any deduction on the said amount is unjustified. In another judgment it was held that a builder cannot refuse to pay interest on the refund, if such refund is being sought on account of deficient service rendered by the builder, or on account of unfair trade practice perpetrated by him.
3) Competition Commission of India
The Competition Act, 2002 was enacted to prevent practices having adverse effect on competition, to prohibit use of dominance and to protect the interests of the consumers. The allottee can file a complaint against the unfair practices of the builders before the Competition Commission of India which has been empowered to investigate anti competitive practices and impose stringent penalties on the offenders. The definition of dominant position is a subjective definition and takes within its sweep many builders who tend to abuse to abuse their dominant position against that of the allottee who has invested money in his project. The punitive measures given under the Act will have a deterrent effect on the real estate industry and help in promoting a fair competition in the market that will ultimately be beneficial for the prospective allottees. A complaint before the Competition Commission can be made against that builder only who is a dominant entity in the market.
In one of its landmark orders the Competition Commission of India imposed a penalty of Rs. 630 crore on Delhi based realtor DLF while holding that it had indulged in unfair practice and market dominance. The commission found DLF guilty of beginning work on a residential project without approvals, increasing the number of floors mid-way through the project, delaying completion, and forfeiting the booking amount of some allottees.
4) Regulatory Forums & Criminal Case
An allottee can approach the regulatory authorities complaining against the non compliance of the statutory obligations by the builders.
In cases where the builders make false promises to the flat purchasers and do not comply with their statutory obligations, the allottee has an option to file a criminal case in a criminal Court against the builder along with the consumer complaint to be filed in consumer forum. The allottee can file a criminal case under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 for cheating, breach of contract, not responding the grievance and delivery of poor quality construction. The allottee can issue a statutory notice to the builder. In case the builder does not respond to the notice, parties have a right to approach the Criminal Court. A police complaint can be filed after the issue of notice and then a criminal complaint can be filed before the Metropolitan Magistrate. The complainant should bring out irregularities committed by the builders while executing the constructions of the building.