Thursday, March 8, 2012

Consumer Redressal Commission imposes Rs 10,000 fine on AWHO

Consumer body hints at ‘Adarsh-like scam’ in Army housing allotment in Panchkula
Rajni Shaleen Chopra,Rajni Shaleen Chopra Posted: Jan 08, 2012

Chandigarh Haryana Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has taken a stern view of the irregularities in allotments by Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO) at its residential project at Sector 20 in Panchkula, and has said that “if enquired into deeply, this may again turn out to be another scam like Adarsh Society at Bombay”.
In a recent order, the Commission had taken note of the lack of transparency by AWHO, and “violation of accommodate their own favourites”. President of the Commission Justice R S Madan and Judicial Member B M Bedi stated, “Though the organisation was created for the welfare of serving/retired defence personnel and was expected to act in a transparent manner...allotments have been made by adopting to a system of fixing security arbitrarily”.

The order was delivered following the appeal made by the Managing Director of AWHO, New Delhi and Col Satish Kumar, Project Director of the Sector 20 project, against the order of District Consumer Forum, Panchkula. The Forum had decided in favour of the complainant, Subedar Raj Kumar Dhingra (retd) of Sector 2, Panchkula.

The Commission dismissed the appeal filed with scathing remarks against AWHO, and imposed costs of Rs 10,000 on it.

Dhingra stated in his complaint that in June 2004, he registered for the AWHO housing scheme in Sector 20 by paying Rs 90,500. The seniority of applicants was to be determined on the basis of the date of bank draft given for the registration fee.

Dhingra was given a registration number and placed at Serial Number 15. In May 2009, AWHO informed him that his waitlist seniority was ‘1’. He was told to either seek transfer to the AWHO project in Panchkula’s Sector 27 or withdraw his registration, as all dwelling units had been allotted. Dhingra complained to AWHO in this regard, but did not get justice.

In June, AWHO again informed him that all dwelling units except one had been handed over. Dhingra told the court that this was contrary to their earlier letter.

In its reply, AWHO said the seniority of applicants was fixed by a local computerised draw in July 2004. In this, Dhingra’s seniority was 723 against the availability of 348 apartments. Dhingra was given the option of changing his registration from Sector 20 to Sector 27, Panchkula, but he did not agree. AWHO said that Dhingra was ranked ‘1’ on the waiting list but no apartment was available, hence there was no deficiency of service on its part.

After considering the case, the Commission said the AWHO rules did not prescribe for any computerised draw. “AWHO has not disclosed the date of draw, the officer under whose supervision it was held, the manner of the draw etc,” said the order.

The Commission further added: “One of the registrants against whom the complainant has a grievance (a Brigadier) was not even a member of the scheme till August 2004 while the complainant had registered in June 2004 and the draw was held in July 2004.” Hence, Dhingra was high up in the seniority list.

After considering other aspects of the case, the Commission observed that allotment was not done fairly by AWHO. The Commission upheld the order of the Forum that AWHO must allot a flat to Dhingra at Sector 20 or 27, Panchkula or at Sector 114 in Mohali at the same price.
Consumer body hints at ‘Adarsh-like scam’ in Army housing allotment in Panchkula

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