Court Orders Cops to Book Flat Owners’ Assn for Disconnecting Power to a Couples’ Apartment
- “It’s not that we can’t afford to pay the maintenance fee, but we are fighting for justice as per the laws. We are not going by the orders set by the Apartment Association, which is not even a registered body. All we need is justice and we also want to create an awareness among home buyers that they should check necessary documents, and also preventive measures to not undergo this kind of a thing, which we are facing”- Shantaram Prabhu (57), and his wife Veena Shantaram Prabhu (52), flat owners in Mauriksha Park Apartments.
Mangaluru: This is about a legal battle between a couple in their 50 plus of age, and Builder of Mauriksha Park Apartments, near PVS Circle, Mangaluru and Board members of Mauriksha Park Apartment Owners Association. The couple namely Shantaram Prabhu (57), and his wife Veena Shantaram Prabhu (52) who are the flat owners in the said Apartment had approached the JMFC II Court after the power supply to their apartment was forcibly disconnected on 6 October 2018, by Association president K Dayanand Rai for having not paid the six months of maintenance fee in advance. The couple had approached seeking restoration of electricity.
On 26 October 2018 Mangalorean.com had published an article Tit-for-Tat! Apt Owners Assn Clarifies ‘True Facts’ on ‘False Issues’ alleged by a Apt Owner Couple, and today, 29 March 2019 after the court had ordered the cops to book a case against the President K Dayanand Rai, Secretary Devadas S Hegde and Joint Secretary Ms Aparna P, of Mauriksha Park Apartments Association, Team Mangalorean interacted with Shantharam and Veena Prabhu to get more details on this ongoing fight seeking for justice.
While Shantharam was a Deputy General Manager at an Automobile Company, and Ms Veena was a Senior Internal Auditor in a Travel Industry in Mumbai, presently both are practicing their own profession from their residence. The couple revealed the story – “We moved to Mangaluru from Mumbai in the year 2014, and bought a Rs 60 lakhs apartment and spent an additional Rs 50 lakhs in interior decoration, in Mauriksha Park Apartments. We had paid Rs 1 lakh to the builder-owner towards maintenance and other basics. But surprisingly the apartment was not completely finished between 2014-2016. We didn’t even had MCC water connection, and we had to depend on bore-well water”.
“The state of affairs of Maurishka Park Building was in miserable condition between 2014-2016 on account of series of irregularity, default, breach of contract committed by the Builder/Developers, M/S. R.K Developers. Essential installations such as Lifts, Generators, Safety and security were totally ignored and not properly maintained by the builder. All attempts made to address these issues with the builder failed on account of his total non-co operation. Fed up with all the inconveniences and hassles, we both filed a case of negligence of maintenance by the builder in the Consumers Court. During that time none of these so-called board members/members of the “So-Called” non-registered Apartment Association joined us when we approached the consumers’ court”.
“On April 2018, without our knowledge, an Apartment Association was formed, in order to collect money from the flat owners towards maintenance and other basic costs, since the builder was reluctant in undertaking the responsibility. But we were not agreeing to the terms and conditions of this non-registered Mauriksha Park apartments Association, and so we never paid the maintenance fee as ordered by the association. Why should we, after we have initially paid Rs 1 lakh plus to the builder towards maintenance charges. Due to non-payment of the fees asked by the association, the president of the association asked MESCOM to disconnect our electricity”
“After the power had been disconnected on 6 October 2108, it had been endless humiliation and candle-light dinners for days for us both, waging a lonely battle against the Maurishka Park Apartment Owners’ Association, and the builder, Ramesh Kumar. We had faced harrowing experiences after the power supply to our apartment was disconnected by the Association for not paying Rs 26,650 (maintenance fee and sinking fund) in advance. Without power (the back-up generator facility was also disconnected), we were forced to buy drinking water, food and give clothes to the laundry. My diabetic husband’s health has worsened and he once slipped and fell due to poor visibility inside the house, with no electricity. He was forced to keep insulin vials in the neighbour’s refrigerator and while I was forced to charge cell phones in the flats of neighbours. Our constant appeals on restoring power supply made to Mescom (Mangalore Electricity Supply Company) and Commissioner of Police yielded no response. While Mescom clarified that they had little control over sub-meters installed in the buildings, the Kadri police and Assistant Commissioner of Police (Central) dismissed my (Veena’s) complaint and declared that it was a civil matter “.
“We felt that the steep maintenance fee (Rs 1.5 per sq ft) and sinking fund of Rs 10,000 (to be collected every six months in advance) was unjustified. Each apartment owner, additionally, had paid Rs one lakh to the Society (there are 360 flats), Rs 55,000 for electricity and about Rs 17,000 for water connection. Yet no Society was formed then. The money, about Rs 3.6 crore, collected from owners has not been utilized yet, and the owner is not willing to pay us back either. In addition, residents had to pay for gymnasium and other facilities which were built in the area reserved for parking. The Association had even turned a blind eye to complaints against beauty parlour, PG hostel and cleaning of garbage trucks on the apartment premises. But they had gone ahead and disconnected power supply to us”.
“Even though the Board members of the Association say that the Association need not be registered since Deed of Declaration (DoD) of the Maurishka Park Apartment Owners Association was registered under the Karnataka Apartments Ownership Act (KAOA), it is not true. Disconnecting the power supply to our apartment was not the right thing to do to us. The High Court of Chhattisgarh in its order (N R Sharma versus Chhattisgarh State Power Distribution Company Limited) delivered in January 2018 had declared that access to electricity is a human right and included in the right to life under Article 21 of the constitution of India. Who gave powers to the association to disconnect electricity to us?”
“Also that the name differs. We gave the cheque for Rs 1 lakh in the name of Mauriksha Park Flat Owners Association, and now it has been changed to Mauriksha Park apartment Owners Association. Why is there a difference in the name? Due to the name difference, we asked them to register, which they disagreed, so we didn’t pay the maintenance fee. Also, we have a letter from the builder lawyer saying that he is maintaining the premises”.
“Due to no electricity, and with no other option, we moved out of the apartment on 6 November 2018 into a rented apartment costing us nearly Rs 20,000 in rent charges. But we do visit our own apartment in Mauriksha for cleaning purposes once or twice a month. Having faced all the trouble and humiliation, and also that the Kadri police station was not agreeing to register a case against the President and Board members of the Association, the only option left for us was to approach the court to get our power restored, and also get justice. We are happy that our advocate Poornesh had followed up the case very systematically, and now the JMFC II court has directed the Kadri Police to register a case against all those concerned persons in the Association who were responsible to disconnect the power supply”
“A case has been registered under Sections 424, 420, 425, 430, 336, 499, 504, 506, 468, 477a, abetting the commission of offense among others. We also want to let you know that NHRC has also registered a complaint against Mauriksha Park Apartment Owners’ Association and a hearing will be scheduled soon. The next court date of our case in JMFC II is during the first week of April 2019. In the meantime, as the builder has not transferred the initial corpus fund of Rs. 3.60 crores collected from members towards the maintenance of the complex, legal proceedings are initiated against the builder for recovery of the same in addition to other reliefs in the national Consumer Forum New Delhi “.
In conclusion, “All we want to say and fight this battle until justice is served, is that It’s not that we can’t afford to pay the maintenance fee, but we are fighting for justice as per the laws. We are not going by the orders set by the Apartment Association, which is not even registered. All we need is justice and we also want to create awareness among home buyers that they should check necessary documents, and also preventive measures to not undergo this kind of a thing, which we are facing” said Shantaram Prabhu, and his wife Veena Shantaram Prabhu, flat owners in Mauriksha Park Apartments.
It is also learnt that the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission ( KSHRC) had also registered a case against Mauriksha Park Apartment Owners’ Association for disconnecting power supply to the apartment of Shantharam and Veena Prabhu. The commission had registered a case ( 4220/CR/2018) based on the complaint from Bengaluru-based Human Rights Defenders’ Forum. “Disconnecting power supply is a serious human rights violation as the right to electricity is enshrined under the Article 21 of Constitution of India” had said Forum Gen Secretary Adarsh G K in his complaint to the KSHRC. The Human Rights Activists had also urged KSHRC to direct Mangaluru Commissioner of Police on restoring the power to the couple’s apartment. The complaint also urged KSHRC to pass directions on registering a criminal case against the association president and conduct an inquiry into the entire episode to ensure that such serious human right violations are not repeated in future.
Note: The contents incorporated in the above report are solely the statements made by Shantaram Prabhu, and his wife Veena Shantaram Prabhu – and are NOT those of the Author/Team Mangalorean and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Mangalorean.com and Mangalorean.com does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. We welcome opinion/feedback from Mauriksha Park Apartment Owners’ Association, if they want to, and will publish the same in our website.