By Fiona Mehta
In the matter of Praveen Chhabra v. Real Estate Appellate Tribunal (2022) under the High Court of New Delhi, the Court quashed the suo motu proceedings initiated by the Appellate Tribunal to monitor construction activity in the National Capital Territory.
The court held that under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA), the jurisdiction of the Appellate Tribunal stands confined to consideration of challenges raised against orders passed by either the Real Estate Regulatory Authority or the Adjudicating Authority under the RERA.
In this matter, the Appellate Tribunal had filed suo moto proceedings in the national capital against a number of residential and commercial projects, as well as construction activities associated with them, and had issued restriction orders against them. Additionally, it had passed an order stating that all construction activity, residential or commercial, would be stayed till the project is registered under RERA Act.
Aggrieved by the same, Praveen Chhabra, the builder developer approached the High Court after he was informed that the plans he had submitted could not be approved in light of the Appellate Tribunal order. The Appellate Tribunal neglected to consider the scope of the Act, according to the Court.
According to Sections 43 and 44 of the RERA Act, which provide for the establishment of tribunals and the definition of what disputes can be brought before such tribunals, the Appellate Tribunal was established as a forum whose jurisdiction could be invoked by a person aggrieved by an order, decision, or direction of the Authority.
The High Court also said that the Appellate Tribunal being a creation of statute, is not part of traditional judicial institutions.
The Court, therefore, quashed the order staying the construction of projects until they are registered under with the RERA authority.
“The Court also takes into consideration the significant portent of the direction issued. It has practically injuncted all construction activity in the NCT of Delhi. The aforesaid injunction is not shown to have been preceded by any enquiry with respect to the validity of a particular project or even a prima facie assessment or evaluation of the validity of a single project,” the Court observed while quashing the order.
The judge, however, clarified that he was not interfering with the Authority’s right to independently examine individual projects under the RERA Act.
Therefore, the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal does not have powers to initiate cases suo motu, the Delhi High Court recently held while setting aside such proceedings initiated by the tribunal to monitor construction activity in the National Capital Territory.