Supreme Court Admits Petition Against Bengal Real Estate Regulator
After repeated requests from the Union government to repeal the West Bengal Housing Regulation Act, a group of homebuyers have filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of WB-HIRA. While the SC has admitted the plea and have asked the state to file its reply within 15 days, the state is proceeding with project and builder registration.
According to the last update, 80 of the 3,000 projects in the state have applied for registration. Thirty of them are now registered with the authority. Since the authority is clearing applications within 15 days as against the 30-day window, more projects may see registration in the near future.
Bone of contention
On several occasions, the Centre has told the state, in writing and verbally, to repeal the Act and to conform to the Central law to prevent ambiguity.
“We have sent a letter (to West Bengal government). There is no ambiguity (that) when the Centre passes a law, states have to conform to that,” Housing Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told media on September 18.
Several homebuyers' groups have also written to the minister, saying they fear that RERA might become redundant if West Bengal is successful in implementing its own version of the Act. Buyers have alleged that there are major dilutions in the state version of the RERA which has to be resolved.
While the Central law clearly lays down the circumstances of force majeure such as war, flood, drought, fire, cyclone, earthquake or any other natural calamity, WBHIRA has made an addition to this clause and talks about ‘…any other circumstances as may be prescribed'.
The Central law defines garage as a place within a project that has a roof and walls on three sides for parking any vehicle but it does not include unenclosed or uncovered parking area, especially open parking while under the HIRA, car parking area means such an area as may be prescribed and defined garage to mean garage and parking space as sanctioned by the competent authority.