The notices were issued by a bench headed by Justice S J Vajifdar, making them returnable after six weeks. (Agencies)
The respondents to the PIL are the Chief Secretary to the state government, Chief Commissioners of Income Tax in Thane and Mumbai, Municipal Commissioners in both cities and well-known real estate firms such as Lodha Builders, Deewan Builders, Hiranandani Construction Company, HDIL, Conwood, Runwal, Ajmera and Kalpataru.
The PIL, filed by Thane-based Vikrant Karnik, was based on a CD of sting operation conducted by a television channel titled ‘Operation Black Money’.
Karnik had earlier written a letter to the Chief Justice of the High Court, who converted it into a suo motu (on its own) civil writ petition.
The PIL alleged that there was no regulator to control the real estate activities as a result of which the builders were exploiting the buyers of flats by giving them lesser area than the one disclosed in the agreements signed between them.
The buyers are asked to pay for the super built up areas, which include passages, flower bed areas and balconies although these areas are not be included in the actual user area (carpet area). The super built up areas are 45 percent more than the carpet area, the PIL alleged.
The PIL, argued by advocate Ashish Mehta, alleged that the builders were selling parking spaces at high rates and in some cases charge as much as Rs five lakh for a single slot.
The PIL also alleged that the builders ask the flat buyers to pay cash for a certain area and the rest in black money on the premise that they would have to pay less for the registration and stamp duty. Thus, they accumulate black money.
The petitioner further alleged that the builders do not maintain proper accounts and evade taxes.
The PIL enclosed a CD of a sting operation, which showed the representatives of the builders indulging in such practises to accumulate unaccounted wealth.
The notices were issued by a bench headed by Justice S J Vajifdar, making them returnable after six weeks.