Maharashtra: Free legal assistance for distressed buyers from Feb 1

January 25, 2020

PUNE: Lawyers registered with Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA) have decided to help homebuyers with free legal consultancy and representation before the tribunal from February 1.

In the logjam between builders and homebuyers, the advocates of the Bar Association-run Legal Aid Cell will assist those in need of help. The members conducted several workshops to raise awareness about the RERA Act, 2016, and MahaRERA.

The Legal Aid Cell is a natural extension of a social cause, said the secretary of the Bar Association, Anil D’Souza.

The free legal aid will help litigants, who cannot afford high lawyer fee as well as those who are not conversant with legal procedures. The petitioner will only have to pay Rs5,000 as fees to MahaRERA to file the complaint. This is in addition to the conciliation option already being offered by MahaRERA as an alternate dispute redressal (ADR) mechanism to litigants. This option is also cheaper as the buyer needs to pay just Rs1,000 as the fee.

The Bar Association is readying a list of 15-20 members, who will help assist consumers. The list will either be put up on a separate website created by the association or on the MahaRERA website.

While the first step would be to cover Mumbai, the remaining cities will be covered with the help of the association members, stated D’Souza.

With the MahaRERA seeing the highest number of project registrations at 23,795, the number of cases that have been disposed of is 7,000 as against the total 9,490 registered cases. D’Souza said although self-representation by litigants is encouraged, some litigants are unable to present their grievances in the right manner and format.

Members have noticed several anomalies in the case representation, like buyers not giving the entire data and proper information upfront in their complaint.

This information includes the exact amount paid, dates of payment, specific details in the registered agreement like date of possession and, importantly, if there is a grace period allowed in the registered agreement.

Besides, there are other terms and conditions in the registered agreement, which the flat purchasers have already agreed and signed upon. Such important details surface when the presiding/adjudicating officer interrogates the parties concerned.

“All this leads to a huge time lag and exasperates the system,” D’Souza shared.

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