The Delhi High Court has dismissed with costs of Rs. 30,000 a petition challenging the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission's (SCDRC) decision of awarding one year imprisonment to a real estate firm's director for not refunding over Rs. 20 lakh to a person whose commercial property was not handed over in time.

The High Court said the SCDRC has adhered to the prescribed procedure and the petitioner director was explained the offence and his plea was recorded after which the findings and sentence had been passed.

Thus, there is no violation of principles of natural justice, on the basis of which, the petitioner can claim a right to file the present petition, the Court said.

The grievance of the petitioner in respect of facts and law, including whether the sentence of simple imprisonment of one year could be imposed by the SCDRC while conducting a summary trial, could have been very well agitated before the NCDRC. However, it is the petitioner who chose not to follow the prescribed procedure, Justice Asha Menon said in the Judgment.

The Court said that not only is the petition devoid of merits but is also not maintainable and dismissed it with costs of Rs 30,000 to be paid to the complainant, whose money was not refunded, as this plea appeared to be intended only to delay execution.

The case dates back to 2015 when the man had filed a complaint before the SCDRC against Harsha Buildcom Pvt Ltd (HBPL) and its Director Harish Kathuria seeking refund of Rs 18.5 lakh which was paid by him in 2012 for purchase of a commercial property in a building owned by the realtor as he was not given the possession within six months.

As HBPL entered a belated appearance before the SCDRC, its right to file the written statement was closed.

According to the petitioner, though an opportunity to file the written statement was sought, the commission did not grant such an opportunity and allowed the complaint directing the director and his company to refund Rs 18.5 lakh along with interest and additionally Rs two lakh towards mental agony, pain and harassment to the complainant.

The director filed an appeal against the March 2018 order of the SCDRC before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) which declined to condone the delay of 100 days and dismissed the appeal.

Thereafter, an execution petition was filed by the complainant after which the director was convicted and sentenced to one year imprisonment or till the payment of the entire amount, whichever was earlier.

Click here to read/download Judgment

With PTI inputs