The Delhi High Court has expressed ‘deep anguish’ over the way the officials of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) have dealt with the issue of alleged poor quality of construction of flats in Rohini in north-west Delhi by the contractor. “To file a suit for recovery more than 20 years after handing over of possession by the contractor, shows that the intent of the officials of the DDA was to ensure that those responsible for poor quality of construction are ‘never brought to book’. More often than not, suits are deliberately filed belatedly, ‘just to pass the buck’ and to blame the judicial system for non-recovery of the compensation amount,” it said.
“This court has no doubt that the DDA officials could have easily detected the poor quality of construction, when the construction was carried out by the defendant (contractor) or at least before the bills of the defendant were paid and a no-dues certificate was issued,” justice Manmohan said. The court dismissed the DDA’s suit, seeking to recover over Rs 1.21 crores from the contractor, SAR Agencies, saying it was barred by limitation and said dismissal of the suit will not prevent the authority from taking action against its officials.
The court also directed the DDA’s senior officials to examine this aspect and take steps, to put a robust mechanism in place, so that the contractors who indulge in poor construction are booked at the earliest and before any loss of human life and property occurs. In August 1992, the DDA had invited bids for construction of 135 MIG flats at Sector-24 in Rohini and the tender was awarded to the contractor, who completed the construction in June 1995. In 2005, DDA received complaints from three occupants, about poor conditions of the flats and in December 2006, a report was submitted with it on faulty construction. Later, the balcony of one the flats also collapsed.
The DDA invited tenders for repairing the defects of 270 MIG flats in 2011 for over Rs 1.37 crores and a legal notice was sent to the previous contractor for damages, in September 2013, after which a suit was filed in the high court. The contractor’s counsel submitted in the court that the authority had come to know about the alleged deficiencies in construction in 2005 but it filed the suit in 2015, which was barred by limitation as it had to be filed within three years, from the date of cause of action.