MOFA – No conveyance for 21 years – Director of Satellite Developers sentenced to two years jail
Builders violate the provisions of the Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act (MOFA) with impunity. But MOFA contains harsh punishments which aggrieved purchasers of flats do not resort to for fear of retaliation or ignorance or both.
The following case is a good example how effective MOFA can be.
Ravindra Hingwala, one of the flat owners of a building in Ghatkopar, Mumbai, moved the Magistrate’s Court in 2006 against Kiran Amin, Director of Satellite Developers Pvt. Ltd. (builder) for not completing the conveyance. The completion certificate of the building was obtained in 1989. The mandatory housing society was registered in 1996. But conveyance has still not been given.
Hingwala told the Magistrate that he had purchased the flat from Jasmine Builders Pvt. Ltd. In 1992, Satellite Developers Pvt. Ltd. took over the rights and liabilities of Jasmine Builders Pvt. Ltd.
Hingwala argued that according to Section 11 of the MOFA, Kiran Amin, Director of Satellite Developers Pvt. Ltd. should have conveyed the property to the housing society within four months from the registration of documents.
The Builder contended that the Complainant could not move the court on his own in the absence of the co-operative housing society.
The Builder also contended that the fact that the question of conveyance is presently a subject of arbitration is a reasonable cause for not handing over possession of the plot to the Complainant and therefore, no offence under Section 13(1) of MOFA is made out.
The Builder further contended that new buildings were constructed by the accused in 2003 on the same land, which is required to be conveyed to Gayatri Dham, therefore conveyance cannot be executed in favour of it.
(Section 13(1) of MOFA provides that if the promoter is able to show reasonable cause because of which it is not possible to give conveyance, same could not constitute an offence under this Act.)
Decision and Jail
Sri V V Patil, Magistrate at Vikhroli Court relied on the observations of the Sessions Court which had dismissed the appeal of the accused against the issuance of process in the case. The Sessions Court had observed that a Complainant, being a member of the society, is entitled to get conveyance on his behalf from the promoters under Section 11 of the MOFA. “Promoters are under legal obligation to convey the title and execute the documents in his favour. They did not convey with this legal provision. The Complainant is, thus, an aggrieved person,” the Sessions Court had said.
The Magistrate pointed out that the grounds of reasonable excuse raised by the accused has been rejected by the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court over the years in appeals filed by the accused. “Moreover, the offence was committed in June 1996, and there was no other construction on the land except Gayatri Dham building. Therefore, there was no excuse for the accused to withhold the conveyance,” the Magistrate held.
The Magistrate said, “For more than 10 years, the complainant is awaiting conveyance of the plot, which the accused failed to give. Considering the facts of the case, the conduct of the accused and intention of the legislature behind enacting the legislation, I am of the view that the accused be dealt with necessary punishment under the Act.”
Sri V V Patil, the Magistrate found Kiran Amin, Director of Satellite Developers Pvt. Ltd, guilty under the provisions of the Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act (MOFA) and sentenced him to simple imprisonment for 2 years.
I am giving the link to the full decision: