WB HIRA vs RERA: What is Applicable in West Bengal?

Posted On : December 23, 2022
WB HIRA vs RERA: What is Applicable in West Bengal?
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RERA stands for Real Estate Regulatory Authority and this authority was created to be in control of the unregulated real estate market which often takes the homebuyers for a ride. Hence, the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act of 2016 (RERA) was enacted by the Central Government to bring in transparency in the real estate sector. The Act also focuses upon the removal of problems, discrepancies, and issues in the sector, especially for the people who invest in real estate.

RERA laws were much awaited by the sector and also by the common people who were always left at the mercy of the builders and real estate companies. Whenever problems arose, these common people had to run from pillar to post to get their issues resolved. Most of the time, the frustration would drive in for want of resolutions of these problems. It is noteworthy that the Consumer Forums (now called as Consumer Commissions) did play a role to bring justice in matters where the home buyers were made to suffer at the hands of builders and companies. But the commission had limited jurisdiction and authority over the matters and there was a need for a stronger body to regulate and adjudicate the real estate matters. Since the advent of the RERA Act there has been good traction and movement in the adjudication of real estate matters.

The Section 84 of the RERA Act, 2016 empowers the states to make rules for regulating, supervising and adjudicating these matters within the states and establish the RERA courts to look into the matter. Owing to this discretion, many states have formulated their own RERA Rules to govern and supervise the sector in their respective states. For example, Delhi RERA, UP RERA, Maharashtra RERA etc.


West Bengal Housing Industry Regulatory Authority (WBHIRA)

The state of West Bengal decided not to follow the Central RERA Act, 2016 and formulated its own law called HIRA under the provisions of West Bengal Housing Industry Regulatory Act, 2017. The same was published in the official gazette dated 17th October, 2017 and came into effect on 1st June, 2018.

The objective of WBHIRA was to regulate and promote the housing sector and to ensure sale of plots, apartments, or buildings, as the case may be, or sale of real estate projects, in an efficient and transparent manner. The aim was to protect the interest of consumers in the real estate sector, and to establish a mechanism for speedy dispute redressal and other related matters.

In consonance with the said Act, HIRA court was also established and all the builders were required to follow the due process for WBHIRA registered projects and buildings through the authorities. WBHIRA was active and functional for a few months. Since it was not promulgated as per the Central RERA Act, hence, its validity was challenged at the Supreme Court.


WBHIRA Unconstitutional: Says Supreme Court

The WB HIRA was quite similar to the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act of 2016 (RERA). But the state of West Bengal while enacting WBHIRA undermined The West Bengal Building (Regulation of Promotion of Construction and Transfer by Promoters) Act, 1993 (1993 Act) which regulated the relationship between promoters and purchasers of real estate in West Bengal before the enactment WBHIRA. The same was specifically repealed by Section 86 of the WBHIRA. The general mass had a feeling that this particular provision defeats the purpose of the RERA as it favours the builders more than the buyers. Thus, a group of home associations called Forum for People’s Collective Efforts filed a public interest litigation under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, 1950 seeking declaration of WBHIRA unconstitutional.

The hon’ble Supreme Court by its judgment dated 4th May, 2021 declared WBHIRA unconstitutional and from that day it became non-functional.


West Bengal RERA Rules

The battle of WB HIRA vs RERA was lost by WBHIRA. The state of West Bengal swiftly got into action and within a given time period on 27th July, 2021 notified the WBRERA rules, which are in consonance with the Central RERA Act and in tandem with the Section 84 of the RERA Act.

On 16th December, 2022, Mr. Sandipan Mukherjee, the Chairman of the WBRERA declared that WBRERA is now in place and operational. The WB RERA official website will be up and running within a fortnight and online filing of HIRA complaints and cases will start soon under WBRERA to alleviate the pains of the home buyers.


Going Forward

What does the setting up of WBRERA and tribunal/court under this provision mean for the people at large? In simple words it means that the builders and agents need to get into the Act, and buyers or consumers get a forum wherein they can knock the door for justice when needed.

Now onwards, all the projects, their promoters and agents have to be mandatorily registered with the regulator, i.e., WBRERA. It has powers to book the promoters and levy penalties but does not have policing capabilities. The homebuyers can verify the RERA approved projects in West Bengal before investing into the property. This will provide an added sense of comfort to all the buyers and investors. In cases where there is deficiency of service or delay by the builders, then the buyers can easily reach out to the RERA court or forum for adjudication in their favour and against the builder.

Does that mean the option to file a case in consumer forum is no longer available? The answer to this question is NO. All the cases which are still going on in Consumer Forum/ Commissions will continue the way they are being pursued. In future for a new case, the consumer will have the option to file a WBRERA complaint either in Consumer Forum or RERA Court as per the choice. It is assumed that since cases in RERA court will be focussed on one kind of matters. Hence, the resolution might be faster than the Consumer Forum.


Written By:
Abhimanyu  Shandilya

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