Decided on March 24,2003

K.USHA RANI Appellant


P.RAMAKRISHNAM RAJU,PRESIDENT - (1.) COMPLAINANT is the owner of 500 sq. yards with existing super -structure bearing Municipal No. 8 -3 -216/2 situated at Sreenivas Nagar, West Colony, Yusufguda, and Hyderabad. While so she entered into an agreement on 6.1.1992 with builder firm by name M/s. Sikhara Constructions for the development of the property into a complex of residential flats. Due to filing of a suit by neighbour the construction work could not be taken up by the builder but later the suit was withdrawn as settled. Then the complainant entered into a fresh agreement on 24.5.1993 with the Managing Partner of M/s. Sree Towers for developing the land into a residential complex. According to which the latter agreed to construct the flats within 15 months from the date of agreement and hand over 40% of the built up floor space to the complainant in lieu of the land given for development. The construction was completed within 8 months excepting some finishing touches and gave possession of Flat No. 101 in the Ground Floor, 303 in the Second Floor on 14.2.1994 against part of the entitlement of 40% of the floor space subject to completion of finishing works like polishing of the floor, painting of doors and windows etc. which were also completed by May, 1994. But the complainant found that the walls in the west bedroom, halls, kitchen and balconies developed cracks and the door frames and shutters lost their shape. Complainant brought these facts to the notice of the opposite party. Though the opposite party applied cement mortar to fill up the gaps in the cracks but later they reappeared. With the result water is seeping through the outer walls into the bedrooms whenever there was rain. Even the southern RCC beams under Flat Nos. 303, 203 and 103 developed cracks as well as slab beams of the roof of Flat No. 303. As it was a matter of grave concern she consulted experienced Engineer who gave the opinion that the cracks in the RCC beams are due to structural defects in the construction of the building. Evidently the south -west corner RCC footings and pillars were raised without touching hard soil as a result of which there is uneven settlement of footings and columns. Even the pillars should have been 24" wide instead of 18". Steel rods used in the beams are not of required standard and tensity and adequate number of stirrups (rings) were not used. The gap between the beams is also long enough which also shows that there is no sufficient strength in the roof. Thus the opposite party while completing the building within a record time of 8 months used substandard material, and unskilled workers, inadequate curing, uneven settlement of the RCC footings and columns and the depletion in the beams and uneven dispersal of the load on the slab beams. All these account for deficiency in service and also unfair trade practice on the part of opposite party. Complainant, therefore, issued notices dated 11.11.1997, 27.11.1997, 24.1.1998 which were replied with contentious allegations. Though the complainant asked for copies of drawings and designs they were also not supplied. Hence, she filed the complaint seeking compensation of Rs. 16 lakhs against the opposite party for deficiency in service. In the written version filed by K. Sunil Kumar Reddy he has admitted the execution of agreement dated 24.5.1993 but he has accordingly adhered to the terms and conditions of the agreement and constructed the building. There are no defects. There are no complaints from other owners except the complainant. The construction was done in accordance with the technical advice given by experienced Architects and structural Engineers. He has completed the construction using the standard material and there is no deficiency in service. Complainant filed her affidavit evidence and documents Exs. A1 to A34. Opposite party has not filed counter affidavit in spite of sufficient time being granted. Complainant filed the Technical Report and the present status of the existing structure of Sree Apartments given by Gita Consultants, Hyderabad. As the matter relates to technical aspects of designs, structural engineering and architectural aspects we have appointed Sysplan Associates, qualified Architects, Engineers and Town Planners who submitted their Interim Report dated 13.9.2001 which runs as follows : (1) The site has been visited by this Commission on 2nd September, at 11.15 a.m. On site, preliminary observations noted in the presence of the parties and their representatives. This Interim Report is submitted highlighting the technical issues of the structure. (2) The building is constructed in stilt + 3 floors with R.C.C. framed structure and brick work. The R.C.C. structure and brick walls have developed a number of cracks due to foundation settlement under two columns in south -west corner. (3) The structure has developed severe distress and as the foundation settlement continued till structural strains extended to other portions of the building and cracks are observed in many R.C.C. beams, slabs and brick walls. (4) The two columns in south -west in stilt portion have visible cracks, which clearly indicate the danger. (5) The structure is repaired in January, 2001, however, the structure settlement is still continuing and new cracks are observed in repaired walls, beams and columns. (6) The building is occupied in spite of the severe distress and warnings shown by the structure. As RCC columns, beams and slabs have structural damages, the structure may collapse and endanger the life of the occupants. (7) It is advised that the structure should be vacated and repairs should be done immediately without further delay. The repair work has to be done under expert guidance. (8) Soil investigation has to be done to assess the soil problem in south -west portion of the building. Only under experienced practising structural engineers and soil engineers advice and supervision, structural rehabilitation work should be done.  Finally by our order dated 1.10.2002 we extended the time for filing affidavit evidence of opposite party by 1.11.2002, even then it was not filed on 1.11.2002. On that day while posting the matter for arguments we observed in the order that if affidavit evidence is filed it will be received even then it is not filed. Therefore, we proceeded to hear the arguments and reserved for orders on 27.2.2003 after hearing the arguments of complainant but there is no representation on behalf of opposite party.
(2.) IN view of the Final Report and also in view of the uncontroverted evidence adduced by the complainant, both oral and documentary, we are of the opinion that there are defects in the construction of the building. Hence there is deficiency in service on the part of opposite party. Then next question is what is the quantum of compensation the complainant is entitled to. Though the complainant claims a sum of Rs. 16.00 lakhs we are of the view that a sum of Rs. 2.00 lakhs with interest @ 18% p.a. from the date of filing of the complaint would meet the ends of justice as both the parties have not placed adequate evidence to arrive at the exact sum required to rectify the defects. As the opposite party has not been appearing we are of the view that even if a direction is given to rectify the defects he will not sincerely comply with the said directions. Hence, we are of the opinion that monetary compensation should be awarded.
(3.) ACCORDINGLY the opposite party is directed to pay a sum of Rs. 2.00 lakhs with interest @ 18% p.a. from the date of filing of the complaint till realisation with costs of Rs. 10,000/ -. Time for payment two months. Complaint allowed. ;

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