Consumer forum slaps steep 18% interest, says Lodha failed to execute agreement despite getting booking amount.
Handing out the order on October 25, presiding member of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission PB Joshi and member Dr SK Kakade observed that the law mandates that Lodha Dwellers Pvt. Ltd should have executed an agreement in favour of Navi Mumbai resident Ashita Agarwal as she had paid the booking amount.
Agarwal had booked a flat for Rs 41,73,944 in Lodha’s Maxima in Dombivali in December 2012. Her advocate Herbert Noronha told the consumer court that despite paying a total of Rs 19,19,935 on due course of time, the agreement was not executed in her name, but an allotment letter was issued.
While admitting in the court about the booking, allotment letter and payment, Lodha contended that as the complainant had not paid the remaining amount on time, the booking stood cancelled. It also agreed to refund Rs 19,19,935 to the complainant, but the forum asked it to pay 18 per cent interest since December 2012.
The forum held that there was deficiency on the part of the builder on both counts — non-execution of agreement and non-delivery of flat.
The complainant told the court that she had initially agreed to pay the remaining amount for the flat and even sought possession. But on realising that the flat had already been sold to a third person, she demanded a refund along with 18 per cent interest.
Justifying the exorbitant interest of 18 per cent (it works out to Rs 20 lakh approximately since December 2012) and an additional Rs 2 lakh, the forum observed that on one occasion when the complainant paid one of the instalments slightly late, she was made to pay an interest of 18 per cent. Therefore, she was entitled to return the amount at the same rate.
“Thus, in view of these documents we find that the opponent recovered interest @18% per annum from the complainant and hence, we are granting the refund of the amount with interest at the same rate,” the panel observed.