Landowners are termed consumers by Supreme Court

New Delhi: In a ruling that will protect landowners who get builders to develop their property, the Supreme Court has laid that landowners can approach a consumer forum to settle a dispute with a builder because the builder is deemed a ''service provider'' under the consumer protection act.

A builder will have to however, move a civil court for remedy, a bench of Justices R.V. Raveendra and L.S. Panta said.

The Apex Court dismissed the orders of the Delhi district forum, state consumer commission and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, which had all held that a landowner was not a ''consumer'' under the act.

The ruling came after a landowner, Faqir Chand Gulati, moved the apex court against builders Uppal Agencies Pvt Ltd. Gulati had entered into an agreement with the firm for the construction of apartments on his land in -3 Kailash Colony.

Under the agreement, after completion of work, Gulati would be entitled to the ground floor - comprising three bedrooms with attached bathrooms, a drawing-cum-dining hall, one storeroom, a kitchen, a rear terrace, parking space and servants' quarters.

However, Gulati said the builders deviated from the sanctioned plan and refused to rectify it, following which he complained to the district forum that dismissed his plea saying the landowner was not a consumer.

The view was upheld by the state commission and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

The Supreme Court however said a landowner was a ''consumer''.