The Indian judiciary has a considerable backlog and red-tape issues, backed by a submission by the Law Minister in Rajya Sabha in 2022, there are approximately four crore, thirteen lakh (4,13,00,000) pending cases in Subordinate and District Courts across the country. In the same reply, it was found that there are 59 lakh (59, 00,000) pending cases in the High Courts across the country, and a whopping seventy-one thousand (71,000) in the Supreme Court. A key step taken to deal with these backlogs is the appointment of tribunals for specialized cases. The Real Estate Regulation and Development Act provides for the setting up of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and subsequent Appellate Tribunals for real estate related disputes.
The RERA was set up by the Act in 2016. In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled in a judgment that home buyers would be entitled to remedies, according to the Real Estate Act and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. In the same case, the Supreme Court found that despite the provision being enacted a long time ago (2016), certain uncooperative States and Union Territories had not set up the RERA and the Appellate Tribunal under the RERA. The court directed such Union Territories and States to appoint permanent adjudicating officers, a Real Estate Regulatory Authority and a subordinate Appellate Tribunal within a period of three months from the date of the judgment. The copies of the judgment were required to be sent to the Chief Ministers of the respective states, who in return were asked to file their compliance affidavits within three months.
In January 2020, the matter was taken up again to identify the limited issue of whether the States and Union Territories had complied with the court’s directions in the previous judgment. The Supreme Court noted that only six States and one Union Territory had responded. In February of the same year, once again, the Supreme Court noted that out of the twenty-eight States and eight Union Territory, only fourteen States and four Union Territories had responded. On the 11th of August of 2023, a two Judge Bench of Justice Sanjeev Khanna and Justice SVN Bhatty heard an application filed in this petition. During the hearing, the court analysed a progress report submitted by Additional Solicitor General (Balbir Singh) regarding the implementation of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority.
It was brought to the attention of the Supreme Court in this report that all States except Nagaland have notified rules under the RERA, it was also observed in the report that twenty-seven States had set up Regular Real Estate Regulatory Authorities and five Union Territories have set up interim RERAs. Similarly, twenty-four States have Appellate Tribunals, while there are four interim Tribunals.
Taking notice of this report, the court issued notice to Chief Secretaries of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Sikkim as well as the Union Territory of Ladakh who have not notified rules or have notified RERA rules but have not set up the Authority. The Court also issued notice to the States Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir who have passed only interim orders notifying the RERA or are in the process of establishing them. The court has given these states and Union Territories sixty days from the date of service of order to reply and relisted the matter for January 2024.