DDA officials ensured guilty never brought to book: HC
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has pulled up the DDA for filing a recovery suit against a contractor 20 years after he gave possession of flats, saying the intent of the officials was to ensure that those responsible for poor construction quality were "never brought to book".
The court expressed "deep anguish" over the way the officials of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) have dealt with the issue of alleged poor quality of construction of flats in Rohini in north west Delhi by the contractor.
"This court has no doubt that the DDA officials could have easily detected the poor quality of construction when the construction was carried out by the defendant (contractor) or at least before the bills of the defendant were paid and a no dues certificate was issued," Justice Manmohan said.
The court dismissed DDA's suit seeking to recover over Rs 1.21 crore from the contractor, SAR Agencies, saying it was barred by limitation and said dismissal of the suit will not prevent the authority from taking action against its officials.
"To file a suit for recovery more than 20 years after handing over of possession by the contractor shows that the intent of the officials of the DDA was to ensure that those responsible for poor quality of construction are 'never brought to book'.
"More often than not, suits are deliberately filed belatedly 'just to pass the buck' and to blame the judicial system for non-recovery of the compensation amount," it said.
The court also directed DDA's senior officials to examine this aspect and take steps to put a robust mechanism in place so that the contractors who indulge in poor construction are booked at the earliest and "certainly before any loss of human life and property occurs".
In August 1992, DDA had invited bids for construction of 135 MIG flats at Sector-24 in Rohini and tender was awarded to the contractor who completed the construction in June 1995.
In 2005, DDA received complaints from three occupants about poor conditions of the flats and in December 2006, a report was submitted with it on faulty construction. Later balcony of one the flats had also collapsed.
DDA invited tenders for repairing the defects of 270 MIG flats in 2011 for over Rs 1.37 crore and a legal notice was sent to the previous contractor for damages in September 2013, after which a suit was filed in the high court.
The contractor's counsel submitted in the court that the authority had come to know about the alleged deficiencies in construction in 2005 but it filed the suit in 2015 which was barred by limitation as it had to be file within three years from the date of cause of action.
The court said poor quality of construction and breach of specifications of agreement between the parties was brought to DDA's notice by one of the residents on October 28, 2005 and cause of action for filing the suit for the first time arose on that date.