Pune builder gets 3 yrs in jail for defying consumer court orders

PUNE: The consumer court here sentenced a developer to three years’ imprisonment on Wednesday for wilful and deliberate defiance of its order and orders passed by the state and national consumer commissions. The court described the case as a “classic example” of builders exploiting consumers after making them surrender their tenancy rights in redevelopment projects.

The district forum bench of V P Utpat and Kshitija Kulkarni ruled that Tushar Sampatlal Shah, proprietor of Sainath Builders at D M road in Camp, deserved no leniency for having prolonged the compliance of court orders, playing with the sentiments of consumers and making the original complainant and his legal heirs run from pillar to post to get possession of a flat and a shop for the last 12 years. The complainant, Krishna Ramnath Mallya of Suyojana Society in Koregaon Park, passed away in 2014 during the pendency of the execution plea and the matter had to be pursued by his legal heirs.

The bench observed that the case displayed the “modus operandi” of builders and promoters, who take possession of tenanted premises by giving false promises and then try to exploit the tenants.

Shah has been given a 30-day period to appeal the district forum’s sentence in the Maharashtra state consumer commission. “He has executed a personal release bail bond of Rs 15,000,” lawyer Nilesh Bhandari, who appeared for the complainants at the point of sentence, told TOI.

Mallya held tenancy rights to a 291 sq ft shop and a 514 sq ft flat in an old building in Rasta Peth. The landlord hired Shah to redevelop the property. According to an agreement signed on July 16, 1998, Mallya surrendered his tenancy rights over the shop and flat in favour of Shah after the latter promised him a shop and flat of similar specifications in the redeveloped property within 18 months. Shah also gave Mallya temporary premises till the completion of the redevelopment work.

But the promised shop and flat were never delivered to Mallya, setting off a legal struggle before the district consumer court and the state and the national commissions.

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