Real Estate Appellate Tribunal

From Justice Definitions Project

What is a Real Estate Appellate Tribunal?

Introduction

The Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, also referred to as REAT is a tribunal specifically created to adjudicate appeals arising from the decisions, directives, or orders of both the RERA Authority and the adjudicating officer formed under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (("RERA, 2016").   It is the entity specifically designated for adjudicating first appeals. Individuals who are dissatisfied with the verdict, directions, or orders of the adjudicating body have the option to submit an appeal to REAT.

Establishment

It is pertinent to note that the authority, as well as The Real Estate Appellate Tribunal (‘REAT’), varies across states, and there is no appellate authority at the central level.[1] A real estate appellate authority shall be established by the appropriate government within one year from coming into force of the RERA Act, through a notification, which shall be known as (Name of the state/Union territory real estate appellate tribunal e.g.- Karnataka Real Estate Appellate Tribunal).[2]  The source legislation for the establishment of REAT is Section 43 of the RERA, 2016. Herein, the appropriate government means- in respect of matters relating to,— (i) the Union territory without Legislature, the Central Government; (ii) the Union territory of Puducherry, the Union territory Government; (iii) the Union territory of Delhi, the Central Ministry of Urban Development; (iv) the State, the State Government.[3]

Scope of Adjudication 

The Appellate Tribunal does not have any pecuniary limits or jurisdiction under RERA. The REAT can take up matters from the appropriate Government or the competent authority or any person aggrieved by any direction, order or decision of the Authority or the adjudicating officer.[4] So jurisdiction of REAT on all these decisions from these authorities. The subject matter includes the real estate matters of the state where the REAT is situated and in the case of REAT made for two or more states, the matters going on in one state, shall be immediately transferred to another, as there would be only one REAT functioning for both the states.[5] Moreover, REAT shall act as a civil court as far as adjudicating matters are concerned, and the following are the subject matters which the REAT adjudicates upon and for which it has to don the hat of a civil court,[6] which are- 

  • summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath;
  • requiring the discovery and production of documents;
  • receiving evidence on affidavits;
  • issuing commissions for the examinations of witnesses or documents;
  • reviewing its decisions;
  • dismissing an application for default or directing it ex parte; and
  • any other matter which may be prescribed.

Nodal Ministry

The nodal ministry for real estate appellate authority is generally considered to be the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Moreover, this ministry and the state governments are regarded as the implementing authorities as far as the decisions of REAT are considered.[7]

Historical Evolution

The chronological sequence of events reveals the legislative process's complexity. Following the introduction of a Real Estate Bill in 2009 that faced hurdles, the NDA Government introduced the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill in 2013. Simultaneously, Maharashtra took proactive steps in 2012 with the Maharashtra Housing (Regulation and Development) Act, establishing the Housing Regulatory Authority and the Housing Appellate Tribunal. The Bill underwent scrutiny, amendments, and approvals, ultimately culminating in the enactment of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016. This legislative journey reflects a proactive response to the challenges posed by an evolving real estate landscape, emphasizing consumer protection and regulatory frameworks.

Legislative Framework

The constituting act is the RERA Act 2016. The provisions in this act which deal with REAT are Section 43-58. The legislative framework of the REAT consists of follows:

Governance Structure

Governance structure implies the composition of REAT which deals with the matters, which is as follows- A Chairperson and at least two full-time Members, one of whom must be a Judicial member and the other must be a Technical or Administrative Member.[8] These appointments shall be made by the appropriate Government.  Herein, the appropriate government shall mean,— (i) the Union territory without Legislature, the Central Government; (ii) the Union territory of Puducherry, the Union territory Government; (iii) the Union territory of Delhi, the Central Ministry of Urban Development; (iv) the State, the State Government.

Appointment of the Members of the REAT

The Chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal shall be appointed by the appropriate Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court or his nominee.[9] The Judicial Members and Technical or Administrative Members of the Appellate Tribunal shall be appointed by the appropriate Government on the recommendations of a Selection Committee consisting of the Chief Justice of the High Court or his nominee, the Secretary of the Department handling Housing and the Law Secretary.[10]

Qualifications

To become a chairperson, the person shall be a high court judge; in the case of a judicial member, he must have held a judicial office in the territory of India for at least fifteen years or has been a member of the Indian Legal Service and has held the post of Additional Secretary of that service or any equivalent post, or has been an advocate for at least twenty years with experience in dealing with real estate matters; in case of technical or administrative member, he must be a person who is well-versed in the field of urban development, housing, real estate development, infrastructure, economics, planning, law, commerce, accountancy, industry, management, public affairs or administration and possesses experience of at least twenty years in the field or who has held the post in the Central Government or a State Government equivalent to the post of Additional Secretary to the Government of India or an equivalent post in the Central Government or an equivalent post in the State Government.[11]

Tenure

The Chairperson of the REAT or a Member of the REAT shall hold office for a term not exceeding five years from the date on which he enters upon his office but shall not be eligible for re-appointment: Provided that in case a person, who is or has been a Judge of a High Court, has been appointed as Chairperson of the Tribunal, he shall not hold office after he has attained the age of sixty-seven years.[12] As far as Judicial Members or Technical or Administrative Members are concerned, none of them shall hold office after they have attained the age of sixty-five years.[13]

Vacancy

A vacancy caused to the office of the Chairperson or any other Member shall be filled up within a period of three months from the date on which such vacancy occurs.[14] The vacant position shall be filled by the appropriate Government in accordance with the provisions of this Act.[15]

Salaries/Allowances

The salary and allowances payable to the chairperson and members of REAT shall be such as may be prescribed by the appropriate government and shall not be varied to their disadvantage during their tenure.[16]

Removal

The appropriate government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, removed from the office of the Chairperson or any Judicial Member or Technical or Administrative Member of the Appellate Tribunal, in certain cases-

(a). Insolvency

In case the member of REAT has been adjudged as an insolvent; or

(b). Moral turpitude

He has been convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the appropriate Government, involves moral turpitude; or

(c). Physical or mental incapacitation

He has become physically or mentally incapable, or

(d). Financial Fraud

He has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions; or

(e). Abuse of Position

He has so abused his position as to render his continuance in office prejudicial to the public interest.[17] The members shall be removed by the appropriate government on the basis of the inquiry of the concerned state’s high court enquiry.

Benches

The appropriate government can make two or more than two benches of REAT in a single state or union territory, as the case may be.[18]

Procedural Framework

The procedural framework is contained within the statutory provisions of the RERA Act. According to it, Parties aggrieved by the RERA order can appeal before the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, and it has to adjudicate such cases within sixty days. If any of the parties is not satisfied with the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal order, they can file an appeal against the order of the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal order to the High Court within sixty days.[19]

Official Definition in Government Reports

NITI Aayog has published a report called Designing the Future of Dispute Resolution - The ODR Policy Plan for India[20]. In this report, online dispute redressal of RERA-related matters is also given, i.e. the government, through NITI Aayog has given the recommendations to resolve RERA-related matters virtually. The recommendations, according to the ODR policy of India mentioned in the report, are as follows-

i. Settlement of disputes through Mediation

Provisions for mediation and settlement of disputes between developers and allottees through ICT shall be introduced.

ii. Expansion of solution of disputes to a wide array through mediation

The rollout of RERA disputes for online adjudication through mediation shall be done in a phased manner for a select class of disputes and then eventually expanded to a wide array of disputes.

iii. Ascertaining a list of disputes resolvable through mediation

The Government can arrive at a final list of disputes that are most suitable for mandatory pre-litigation mediation after consultation with the public, experts and the judiciary

Digitization Status

Digitization is pivotal as far as real estate is concerned; this also includes digitization of cases resolved by real estate appellate tribunal and other aspects in regard to the tribunal as well. Its significance can be ascertained by the fact that 41% of buyers are ready to purchase properties without seeing them,[21] making them susceptible to fraudulent transactions, so in order to protect their rights, digitization is necessary, which shall also percolate to real estate appellate tribunal, in order to maintain complete transparency. An example of such digitization is Justice, developed to help in the digitization of RERA-related matters.[22]

Each state has its own real estate appellate tribunal and accordingly has its own digital website and structure. These include the Assam Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, the Bihar Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, the Haryana Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, the Karnataka Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, the Madhya Pradesh Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, the Rajasthan Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, the Tamil Nadu Real Estate Appellate Tribunal and the Uttar Pradesh Real Estate Appellate Tribunal.

Appearance in Official Database

As reported by the Press Information Bureau, which gathered information from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, thirty states and union territories have established the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) under the Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016[23]. The data on the number of pending cases and the average resolution time in Real Estate Tribunals is not maintained centrally but is managed by each state individually. These details are organized as follows:[1]

Screenshot 2023-12-12 003634.png

Research that engages with-

Research Publication by Think Tanks

Reforming the Tribunals Framework in India: An Interim Report[24]

Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy has come up with the research publication titled ‘Reforming the tribunals framework in India: An Interim Report’. This report authored is by Arijeet Ghosh, Diksha Sanyal, Raunaq Chandrashekhar & Reshma Sekhar who are Research Fellows in the Judicial Reforms Initiative at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, highlights the issues in the functioning of tribunals in general, including REAT. It points out that these tribunals, including REAT have a lack of independence, administrative concerns, and Jurisdiction of High Courts in regard to matters before the tribunals is also a point of discussion. Moreover, this report, as a part of the annexures, sums up the important features of the REAT, which are as follows-

Details.png

HUGE BACKLOG OF CASES IN THE REAL ESTATE SECTOR: TIME FOR A RE-LOOK AT RERA?[25]

This report is authored by Srinjoy Debnath. It recognizes that there exist a few challenges, as indicated by The Centre of Business and Financial Laws, i.e., approaching consumer redressal forums instead of REAT and absence of a central REAT. The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 (‘CPA, 2019’) provides a better and more accessible alternative for complainant buyers District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (‘District Commission’) are present in every district and the buyer can file a complaint in the district commission of their residence, instead of going to the district where REAT is situated. This can form part of the reason why there is a huge backlog of Real estate-related cases in the consumer forum even after 7 years since the passing of RERA and the formation of a separate mechanism for real estate disputes. And it is pertinent to note that the authority, as well as The Real Estate Appellate Tribunal (‘Appellate Tribunal’), varies across states and there is no appellate authority at the central level.[26] Moreover, Information regarding the number of cases pending and the average time taken to resolve them in Real Estate Tribunals is not maintained centrally. This is an issue because , many buyers are not able to meet the ends of justice in their disputes.

References

  1. https://www.cbflnludelhi.in/post/huge-backlog-of-cases-in-the-real-estate-sector-time-for-a-re-look-at-rera-1
  2. Section 43 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  3. Section 2(g) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  4. Section 44(1) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  5. Section 43(4) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  6. Section 53(4) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  7. https://www.niti.gov.in/sites/default/files/2021-11/odr-report-29-11-2021.pdf.
  8. Section 45 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  9. Section 46(2) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  10. Section 46(3) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  11. Section 46(1) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  12. Section 47(1) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  13. Section 47(1) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  14. Section 48(3) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  15. Section 52 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016
  16. Section 48(1) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  17. Section 49 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  18. Section 43(2) of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  19. Section 44 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016.
  20. https://www.niti.gov.in/sites/default/files/2021-11/odr-report-29-11-2021.pdf
  21. https://integrio.net/blog/top-examples-and-technologies-of-digital-transformation-in-the-real-estate-industry#:~:text=Digitization%20allows%20real%20estate%20professionals,based%20on%20real%2Dlife%20data.
  22. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/services/property-/-cstruction/jupitice-to-help-digitisation-of-rera-says-ceo-raman-aggarwal/articleshow/98690634.cms.
  23. https://pib.gov.in/Pressreleaseshare.aspx?PRID=1810454.
  24. https://vidhilegalpolicy.in/research/2018-6-11-reforming-the-tribunals-framework-in-india-an-interim-report-1/.
  25. https://www.cbflnludelhi.in/post/huge-backlog-of-cases-in-the-real-estate-sector-time-for-a-re-look-at-rera-1
  26. https://www.cbflnludelhi.in/post/huge-backlog-of-cases-in-the-real-estate-sector-time-for-a-re-look-at-rera-1
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.