SC agrees to hear plea seeking replacement of WB real estate act with RERA
By Sumit Saxena
New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea seeking direction to replace West Bengal Housing Industry Regulation Act, 2017 (HIRA) with the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA).
A group of activists identified as Forum for People's Collective Efforts from Kolkata filed a petition in the apex court seeking an order to declare HIRA as 'ultra vires' as per Constitution, and issue directions restraining West Bengal government from enforcing the provisions of the HIRA, and then direct the state government to implement RERA.
The petitioners have also written to the Prime Minister and central agencies concerned to repeal HIRA. The petitioners are the original activists who claim to have contributed in the preparation of the RERA by submitting their comments and suggestions to the Select Committee constituted by the Rajya Sabha.
"The members made their detailed submissions to the committee and also participated in the deliberations along with other stakeholders who were invited by the Select Committee," contended Devashish Bharukha, counsel for the petitioners.
A counter affidavit was filed by the Centre stating West Bengal is the only state, which has notified its own Act despite RERA in place, and have rejected repeated requests from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to notify RERA. The West Bengal government has already implemented HIRA in March 2018.
"A careful analysis of Article 254 would reveal that if any provision of law made by the legislature of a state is repugnant to any provision of a law made by the Parliament, then the law made by the Parliament shall prevail," said the Centre's affidavit seeking to declare HIRA unconstitutional and void.
A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra after hearing the argument have listed the matter for further detailed argument in August. The Ministry of Law and Justice has opined HIRA has breached the constitutional set-up, as it has not received the assent of the President.
Ministry of Home Affairs echoed similar views stating it has not received the Bill from the state government yet. The Centre has informed the court that 29 states and Union Territories have already notified rules under RERA. Though, the constitutional validity of RERA was challenged before various High Courts, but no court has ruled against it.
Bharukha submitted that the petitioners, who met various political parties to advocate RERA, strongly contend that RERA will safeguard the interest of the homebuyers instead of HIRA.
"RERA will help in curbing malpractices by builders and address the woes of the homebuyers. There is also clear and direct inconsistency between RERA and HIRA, which is absolutely irreconcilable, therefore, it does not benefit the homebuyers," contended Bharukha.
(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at email@example.com)