The Navjivan Co-operative Housing Society Limited on Lamington Road has been directed by a consumer forum to reimburse ₹98,255 along with 12% interest per annum within a month to a member (now deceased) for the repairs he carried out to fix damage to his flat after leakage from the terrace. The society had denied him the refund saying he undertook renovation work and that some bills were not genuine.
Order passed by Redressal Commission
The order was passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, south Mumbai, which cited the bye-laws and said that the society was responsible for the work similar to what it undertook for a neighbouring flat after being dragged to court. The complainant, Anant Mansukhlal Sheth, was represented by four legal heirs and was also given Rs35,000 as compensation for mental, physical harassment and litigation costs.
Sheth owned a flat in the 875-member Navjivan Society since 1971 that has residential, commercial, shops and other facilities. Over his top floor flat was the building’s overhead water tank. The terrace was in a poor condition, resulting in damage to plaster, column beams and electrical installation in his flat due to leakage since 2013.
Sheth approached the committee regularly for urgent repairs to avoid any untoward incident / damage and loss of life and property. However, despite many reminders, nothing happened. Sheth then filed a complaint with the registrar’s office, which directed the society to take corrective measures. He took up the repairs himself after taking permission from the society and gave bills worth Rs98,255 for reimbursement in January 2018. When the society denied the claim, Sheth filed a consumer complaint.
Complaint frivolous, filed with unclean hands
The society termed the complaint frivolous, filed with unclean hands and suppressive of facts. It said that the complainant had not disclosed facts that society paid him Rs6,000 for labour charges and spent Rs2.94 lakh to fix problems on the terrace. It said that the society had rejected his claim as not being appropriate and sought to recover the cost of renovation work. It also said that the registrar had asked him to appear before the co-operative court and the complaint itself stood time barred.
Commission says complaints can be simultaneously filed
The commission set aside all jurisdictional issues and said that complaints can be simultaneously filed with it and was not barred by other limitations raised by the society. It said that repairs and maintenance of buildings must be carried out by the society / managing committee. It said that though the society carried out repairs in 2014, it cannot be said that the repairs done by the complainant were not necessary without certification from a competent authority as the building is old.
The commission stated that the work undertaken was remedial action and by accepting bills of water-proofing the society in a way agreed that the problem existed. The society repaired Sheth’s neighbour’s flat after he approached the court and has not denied the same. It added that the complainant had taken sincere efforts to point out the problem time and again. It also said that the society ought to have filed an expert report to state that ceiling work expense was worth only Rs10,000 and what was sought by the complainant was for renovation.
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