Guwahati along with other major towns in Assam are growing like never before. And the real estate scene is also equally booming with more people rushing to buy a house, especially in the gateway to the Northeast.
But then, there are problems. Problems in solving the grievances related to real estate.
The real estate watchdog – Assam Real Estate Appellate Tribunal (REAT) came into existence in January, 2021, as per the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act of 2016. But now they are struggling to deal with the public grievances.
The reason! There is a serious lack of human resources and basic infrastructure.
At present, the REAT doesn’t even have a proper office to operate.
At least one case is registered with the tribunal in every two days. And REAT has a stipulation that all judgments are to be delivered within 60 days of the filing of the appeal.
Since February 2021, the Assam Real Estate Appellate Tribunal has been functioning from a temporary office consorting to just two small rooms. These rooms are allotted to the chairperson and the administrative member, also doubling as the courtroom.
The remaining staff who are deployed on additional charges in the tribunal by the Assam government or are hired on a contractual basis by the tribunal; work from a few tables placed within the office of the town planning.
“The functioning and powers of a real estate appellate tribunal are similar to that of any other court. And with the real estate regulatory gaining momentum, the number of grievances registered with the appellate tribunal is also increasing. But there is no courtroom to accommodate the lawyers and conduct proper hearing,” said administrative member Onkar Kedia.
Kedia was appointed as the administrative member in January 2021.
Of late, the housing and urban affairs department has initiated steps to house the tribunal at a permanent office on the GS Road. However, there is no hope of early shifting as the space has not yet been completed for accommodation.
“An early shifting is essential in holding a proper courtroom for the litigants,” said Kedia.
Fourteen of the sanctioned 16 posts in REAT are vacant
The urban development department in an order passed in December 2019 had sanctioned 16 posts for the appellate tribunal which includes one chairperson, one judicial member, one administrative member, one adjudicating officer for RERA, one senior assistant, one peshkar, four junior assistants, one stenographer (Grade-II/III), one computer operator and four peons.
Apart from Kedia, the other man in the REAT is justice (retired) Manojit Bhuyan who joined as the chairperson in February 2021.
Since then no other permanent appointments have been made to the tribunal.
“The state government sanctioned a body of 16 members. REAT is supposed to be a three-member body. But it is actually functioning with just two members. The judicial member has not yet been appointed. Most importantly, there is no registrar in this court,” Kedia added.
“Every court and tribunal needs to have at least one registrar. But we are functioning without one and surprisingly, there is no sanctioned post for a registrar in this tribunal. Although it has not been an issue till now as the number of litigations was less, with the increase in the number of litigations it will be difficult to conduct the official works without a registrar,” he reckoned.
Apart from the two aforementioned appointees, there is an assistant director, an accountant and a peon who are deployed on additional duties in the tribunal apart from their regular posts.
“When the same person holds multiple offices, the services are not very dedicated and effective. As our workload increases we need people who are exclusively appointed for the tribunal,” Kedia opined.
As such REAT has appointed an assistant registrar, a peon, and a computer operator on a contractual basis.
Surprisingly, except for the posts of the chairperson and the two members who are administrative officials, the remaining 13 posts are all of the clerical grades.