Real estate regulator to get head, members soon

Will make sure only persons of integrity and those without financial interest in the sector are picked for the posts, says official

The Tamil Nadu Real Estate Regulatory Authority (TNRERA), a body meant for protecting the interests of the consumers, is all set to get a chairperson and two members shortly.

The State government will, in a matter of days, announce the appointment of the chief and members, says an official in the Housing Department. A three-member selection committee, comprising a judge of the Madras High Court, is said to have completed its task of zeroing in on probable candidates for the three slots.

For the time being, Principal Secretary (Housing) [S. Krishnan] is functioning as the Authority. In December, B. Rajendran, a former judge of the High Court, was made chairperson of the Real Estate Appellate Tribunal, on the basis of the recommendation of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee. Both RERA and the Tribunal will have jurisdiction over Andaman and Nicobar Islands too.

Responding to reports of pressure being exerted on the government to include representatives of the real estate industry in RERA, the official pointed out that the government itself had invited nominations from different sections. At the same time, the authorities are also “conscious that only persons of integrity beyond question” and those who have “no financial interests” in the sector should be appointed to the Authority. M. G. Devesahayam, civil society activist, who is often critical of the working of various standing commissions, said that unless the government picked up “independent professionals” for the TNRERA, the body would not function as a meaningful institution.

However, the official, comparing the TNRERA with the Electricity Regulatory Commission and other bodies for human rights and women, said the former was closer to the Reserve Bank of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India. It has got “extensive powers” including the power to order imprisonment, if one were to go by Section 59 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016. “Certainly, it is not an advisory body, unlike the Commission for Women or the Human Rights Commission,” the official said.

Huge expectations

An urban planner, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said those who were going to be part of the Authority should be able to balance the interests of the consumers and those of the sector. “Already, the industry is struggling to overcome the lean phase that it has been going through on account of a variety of factors,” she said.

S. Ramaprabhu, secretary, southern centre of the Builders’ Association of India (BAI), said that while his organisation welcomed the establishment of the Authority, it did not want the new body to conduct itself as yet another “inspection cell” of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) or the Directorate of Town and Country Planning. “We will have no issues if the TNRERA functions with utmost transparency,” he said, urging the regulator to open offices in other cities of the State such as Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchi.

On the row over the temporary location of the Authority’s office on the premises of the CMDA, the official said that while the government was looking for a permanent site for the TNRERA, the ties between the Authority and the CMDA are not like the one between the regulator and the regulated, as the TNRERA has no jurisdiction over the CMDA.