In a recent ruling, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) in New Delhi said that “to avoid multiplicity of proceedings and contradictory judgments on same issue between the same parties” a complainant cannot approach both the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and the consumer court over the same complaint.
The court used the concept of “estoppel by election of remedy” which applies when multiple remedies are available for an issue and where the remedies might run in contradiction to each other.
“An election of remedy arises when two concurrent remedies are available and the aggrieved party chooses to exercise one, in which event he loses his right to simultaneously exercise the other for the same cause of action,” held Justice Ram Surat Ram Maurya and NCDRC member Bharatkumar Pandya on September 20, 2023.
“Intentional exercise of a choice between the alternatives bars the persons making the choice from the benefit of the one not selected on the principle of ‘estoppel by election’,” Justice Maurya further noted, implying that when concurrent remedies are available, choosing one remedy means foregoing the use of the other remedy for the same complaint.
The case pertains to the delayed possession of two residential flats in Mumbai. The complainant, Kanoria Energy & Infrastructure Limited, had previously filed complaints under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 and pursued other legal avenues, including the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. The accused or opposite party in the case was Macrotech Developers Ltd, represented by advocates Rahul Kriplani and others.
Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat, representing the complainant, argued in court using section 18 of the RERA Act that a remedy under the Act is “without prejudice to any other remedy” and hence his complaint was valid.
The NCDRC, however, rejected these arguments holding that both the consumer court and the RERA tribunals could not be approached as remedies by the complainant for the same case.