A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. In real estate, such cases are usually filed with the intention to silence, censor, and intimidate buyers concerned.
Homebuyers across the country are taking on the social media platforms to raise their voices against the wrongs of the developers across the country. Social media services like Facebook, Whatsapp, Telegram etc comes handy in bringing home buyers together. While there are countless benefits of such services for buyers, there are some downsides too. Buyers sometimes go overboard in using such platforms and give an opportunity to the builder to allege that they have broken the law. This gives an opportunity to the developer to hit back and the divert the buyer’s focus.
Ashish Bhalla vs A.N Buildwell buyers and their registered association in Delhi High Court – [CS(OS) 188/2016]
One Mr. Ashish Bhalla, who was earlier associated with A.N. Buildwell have alleged that buyers of A.N. Buildwell have been continuously defaming him on various social media channels like Whatsapp, Telegram etc. Mr. Bhalla alleges that buyers are doing so to malign his image and do harm to his business which includes World Trade Centers in Noida and Chandigarh.
The developer claims that he is being blackmailed by the buyers of A.N. Buildwell to fund the struggling projects and thus they are targeting his other business. It’s claimed that Mr. Bhalla is not associated with A.N. Buildwell since 2010 and other partners of the company are solely responsible for the state of affairs.
Among many other allegations, the developer alleges that buyers called the developer a “Pig” and “Theif” on social media platforms like Telegram.
Based on the above-mentioned facts, the developer alleges that these statements have caused serious damages to his business and the court must protect his interests. Developer demands damages of 5 Crores from the buyers as compensation for loss of reputation.
Buyers of A.N. Buildwell allege that Mr. Bhalla is very much involved in the affairs of A.N. Buildwell and responsible for the state of affairs. They claim that there are several FIRs registered against the company and an inquiry is also pending before the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), Delhi. They say we have done no wrong and we are just demanding our homes which are delayed by years.
It’s worth mentioning that A.N. Buildwell is already in serious trouble and have filed for liquidation. The Logical Buyer did a story on this developer sometime back. The company is not able to construct the project and is in the process of liquidation.
The High Court have asked buyer to refrain from calling the builder with animal names. It would be interesting to see the outcome of the case and we will keep you updated with the progress.
Already aggrieved buyers who are fighting for their homes and going pillar to post were shocked with this defamation suit. It’s like a double whammy for those who have paid 60-90% of the total consideration of the flat and the delivery is not in sight. About 300 plus crores have been paid by the buyers collectively with project far from completed.
The Logical Buyer’s advice
We have always advised homebuyers to be extra cautious while using the social media platform to raise their voice. While platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp and Telegram gives an easy access to information and idea sharing, they can also bring some trouble if not used properly. Do read: Social media activism against builders and defamation suits
We suggest that homebuyers share only fact-based information and refrain from making highly derogatory remarks against the developers. You may not gain much from abusing the developers but the developer will surely get a chance to intimidate those raising their voice.
Be smart, be a Logical Buyer and fight for your rights in a constructive manner.