The Real Estate Appellate Tribunal (REAT) has been set up to hear appeals against orders passed by the Real Estate Regulatory (Authority). Established under Section 43 of the Real Estate Regulation Act, 2016, the REAT can examine the legality of orders passed by the RERA and decide whether to uphold or overturn them. Orders passed by REAT can further be appealed by filing an appeal in the High Court.
The Real Estate Appellate Tribunal comprises one chairperson and two or more full-time judicial and technical members. The Chairperson is a retired High Court judge while the judicial member is a qualified advocate with an experience of twenty years or more. The technical member should have at least twenty years experience in urban development, housing and infrastructure. A bureaucrat having rank of Additional Secretary and above in the Government can also be appointed as a technical member.
What is the time-limit for filing an appeal against a RERA Order?
An appeal challenging a RERA order must be filed within sixty days. This time limit will be calculated from the day on which a certified copy of the order was given to the Appellant.
Procedure for filing the Appeal:
Under Section 43 of the RERA Act, 2016 any person aggrieved by an order passed by the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) can file an appeal. Such an appeal must state the grounds of fact and law on the basis of which the RERA order is challenged. The general format of the appeal can be as under:
- Details of the Order Challenged
- Reasons why the RERA order is wrong any must be reversed;
- How the adverse RERA order will affect you;
- Reliefs sought from the Appellate Tribunal;
Once the appeal is prepared, it must be filed in the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal along with the applicable fees. The Appellant must also serve copies of the appeal upon all the parties to the case.
Time-bound Hearing of the Appeal:
Once the appeal is filed and copies given to all the parties, the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal (REAT) will fix a date for hearing the matter. Under Section 53 of the RERA Act, the REAT has the powers to regulate its own procedure. It is not bound to adhere to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 or the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. This means that any proofs or documents which accompanying the appeal memo can be directly filed on the basis of self-attestation or notarization. If the opposite party challenges the authenticity of the document, the onus is upon him to provide proof to substantiate those claims.
As stated in Section 44 of the Act, the Appeal must be heard and disposed off within sixty days of filing. If this time limit is exceeded, the REAT will have to give reasons to justify the delay. Thus, the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal is under a statutory duty to dispose off cases in a time-bound manner and not keep them pending.
During the hearing, the Adjudicating Officer of the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal will have to follow the Rules of Natural Justice. This means that he will have to hear both sides and give them to chance to rebut each other. The Opposite Party will be given a chance to file his reply to the complaint. After reply is filed, the Appellant can file a short counter to the reply, known as a rejoinder. Once these documents are filed, the pleadings are considered complete and matter is kept for final hearing.
During the hearing, the Adjudicating Officer of RERA will give both sides ample time to present their arguments. The parties must follow proper discipline and not try to unnecessarily interrupt one another. If the judge has any questions, he will raise them and parties must answer to the best of their abilities. Once this stage of arguments and questions is complete, the matter will be kept for passing orders.
Adjournments an Exception, Not a Rule:
Civil courts in India have been plagued with the ‘tareekh pe tareekh‘ syndrome, resulting in massive pendency and denial of justice. This is not the case with the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal. Since Section 43 prescribes a time limit of sixty days, the lawyers appearing for the parties must not seek unnecessary adjournments. If a party seeks to adjourn the proceedings, it must provide valid reasons for doing so failing which the request will be rejected.
Right to Legal Representation:
Any person who files an Appeal in the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal can either argue the case himself or appoint a lawyer, chartered accountant or company secretary to argue his case. Whoever appears and argues must be thorough and well-versed with facts and law. This is because the chairperson of the REAT is a retired judge and he will expect the parties to be able to answer his questions on fact and law.
Appeal to the High Court:
Once the REAT decides the matter, the order can be challenged by filing an Appeal in the High Court. Such an appeal must be filed within sixty days from the date of communication of the order to the Appellant. Communication of the order is considered complete when (i) It is uploaded upon the website or (ii) When certified copy is provided to the Appellant, whichever is earlier.
About the Author:
Aditya Pratap is a lawyer practising at the Bombay High Court. Questions can be addressed to him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information one may visit his website adityapratap.in. and his YouTube Channel.