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Aug 18, 2011 at 08:01am IST

DLF slapped Rs 630 crore fine, relief for buyers

New Delhi: It is a verdict that could bring some order to one of India's most disorganised sectors. The Rs 630 crore penalty imposed on real estate giant DLF will relieve customers, who say sale agreements are heavily tilted in favour of the builder.

Head-Buyer Association at Dlf Park Place Harsh Sehgal said, "If I have to buy an apartment, I have to sign on dotted line. I have no other choice. I can't buy apartment in this country unless I sign on the agreement which is forwarded to me. DLF apartment buyers agreement on page one says that you do not return the agreement duly signed within 30 days without altering comma or full stop, then your apartment will not be allotted to you and the money which you have paid to them will be forfeited. What choice do I have? And I would like to inform you that agreements mostly comes almost a year after you signed the application form."

Sehgal is party to the complaint filed by the Belaire Owner's Association. DLF had delayed construction of the project and increased the number of floors without informing buyers.

The Competition Commission order says DLF cannot unilaterally cancel a deal and will have to consult buyers before making any changes.

Senior Counsel, President, Indian Law Firms Lalit Bhasin said, "The CCI's findings will now open door for other property owners to complain about unfair practices adopted by real estate companies."

MD of Hiranandani Builders, Mumbai Niranjan Hiranandani said, "Consumer courts and high court are taking care of customers in such cases now. Decisions are going in customers' favour."

DLF has three months to rework contracts. It also has the option to challenge the order before the competition appellate tribunal. But realty buyers in India finally have hope of a level playing field.