Architects and structural engineers can no longer remain aloof when it comes to owning responsibility for unauthorised constructions, and can be hauled up if they fail to discharge their bounden duty. The Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission upheld an order of a city consumer forum directing architect Anil Jalgaonkar and structural engineer RD Magdum to refund the fees received from Goregaon resident Ganesh Shinde, who hired them for constructing his house. They also have to pay Rs. 20,000 each to Shinde towards compensation.
“They were legally bound to see whether the contractor is doing his job as per the sanction plan,” the Commission observed.
The commission concluded that both of them had failed to discharge their duty, as they had not visited the construction site ever after their first visit.
On April 7, 1998, Shinde received a notice from Mhada stating unauthorised excavation was being done at the construction site and he had encroached upon a neighboring plot. The contractor filled in half the excavated pit on Shinde’s request, but refused to fill the remaining half unless his demand for additional payment was met.
Shinde then moved the Mumbai Suburban Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, which held Jalgaonkar and Magdum guilty of deficiency in service, and in June 2004, directed them to refund fees received from the complainant, and directed the two and the contractor together to pay Rs. 60,000 towards compensation and Rs 5,000 towards cost of litigation.