The Supreme Court, on September 4, 2017, asked the Bombay High Court to decide within two months, the pleas challenging the validity of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA), which are pending there. It also asked the other high courts, where pleas have been filed by builders and others challenging the provisions of the RERA, to await the decision of the Bombay High Court, before deciding the cases.
A bench of justices Arun Mishra and MM Shantanagoudar made the observations, while hearing a plea filed by the centre, seeking transfer of all the petitions challenging the provisions of the RERA pending in different high courts, to either the apex court or one of the high courts. “We feel it would be appropriate to direct the Bombay High Court to take up the matter, along with other connected matters pending there. Let a considered decision on this plea be taken as expeditiously as possible. Let the process be expedited and the decision be rendered within two months,” it said.
The top court requested the chief justice of the high court to constitute an appropriate bench to hear these cases. It said, ‘in order to avoid conflict of decisions’, the other high courts would await the decision of the Bombay High Court.
During the hearing, attorney general (AG) KK Venugopal told the bench that several builders and other petitioners have approached the high courts of Bombay, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, challenging the provisions of the RERA. He said the petitions also related to the provision regarding registration of ongoing projects, in which the builders take advance money from the buyers.
When the bench initially suggested that it could ask one of the high courts to deal with all these matters, Venugopal said these petitions could also be heard by the apex court. The bench was also told by an advocate appearing for one of the parties that the first plea on this issue was filed in the Bombay High Court and it could be asked to decide the matter expeditiously.
The government had earlier mentioned the matter before a bench headed by the chief justice and said that various pleas challenging the validity of the real estate law, were pending before the high courts across the country. The RERA came into effect on May 1, 2017, a year after it was passed by both the houses of parliament. The validity of this act has been challenged in various high courts by several petitioners, including builders and promoters of real estate firms. Recently, the Bombay High Court had asked the centre and the state to file their response, on the petitions challenging various provisions of the act.
According to the act, developers, projects and agents had to mandatorily register their projects with the real estate regulatory authority, by July 31. Any unregistered project would be deemed to be unauthorised by the regulator. Under the RERA, each state and union territory will have its own regulatory authority (RA), to frame rules and regulations under the act.
The RERA covers both, new project launches and ongoing projects that have not been completed or the occupation certificate not received. It makes it obligatory on the part of the builders not to book, sell or offer for sale, or invite people to purchase any plot, apartment or building in any real estate project, without registering the project with the authority.