The Supreme Court of India recently upheld the amendments made to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in 2018 (“Code”) to treat homebuyers as financial creditors. The Court said that the original provisions concerning Financial Creditors under the Code always subsumed homebuyers and that the amendment under challenge had only added an explanation to the section making this inclusion further clear.
The Court said, “The expression “borrow” is wide enough to include an advance given by the home buyers to a real estate developer for “temporary use” i.e. for use in the construction project so long as it is intended by the agreement to give “something equivalent” to money back to the home buyers. The “something equivalent” in these matters is obviously the flat/apartment.”
“Also of importance is the expression “commercial effect”. “Commercial” would generally involve transactions having profit as their main aim. Piecing the threads together, therefore, so long as an amount is “raised” under a real estate agreement, which is done with profit as the main aim, such amount would be subsumed within Section 5(8)(f) as the sale agreement between developer and home buyer would have the “commercial effect” of a borrowing, in that, money is paid in advance for temporary use so that a flat/apartment is given back to the lender”, the Court added.
The Court, referring to Section 88 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (“RERA”), held that it was an additional remedy, which will not bar other remedies available to a homebuyer. The Code and RERA operate in completely different spheres and said, “Remedies that are given to allottees of flats/apartments are therefore concurrent remedies, such allottees of flats/apartments being in a position to avail of remedies under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, RERA as well as the triggering of the Code.”