Real Estate (Regulations and Development) Act, 2016: Battling Unregistered Projects and False Advertisement


This research paper investigates the jurisdiction of unregistered projects under India’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and discusses the issue of fraudulent advertisement scams in the real estate business. The article offers light on the obstacles created by unregistered projects and misleading advertising tactics by a careful study of current precedents and applicable regulations, while also proposing ideas for reducing these problems.

This research study advances awareness of the jurisdictional difficulties regarding unregistered projects under RERA and provides practical solutions for dealing with misleading advertising scams in the real estate business. It is useful for policymakers, regulatory bodies, and stakeholders in the Indian real estate sector who want to improve consumer protection and ensure a fair and regulated marketplace.


Unregistered Projects, Jurisdiction, False Advertisement, RERA Authority and RERA Act


The real estate market has long been a popular investment option, with the potential for big long-term rewards. This market, however, is not without risk, since unethical and fraudulent schemes have spread throughout the sector, leaving buyers vulnerable to financial loss and legal challenges. In response to these concerns, governments around the world have put forth tactics to protect buyers while strengthening accountability. The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act of India, also known as RERA, was enacted in 2016. RERA empowers homeowners while also promoting justice and establishing a strong legal framework. This research study focuses on the importance of RERA in protecting Indian real estate buyers from unregistered developments and deceptive advertising.

The goal of this article is to examine the RERA regulations that protect home buyers’ rights and ensure fairness in real estate deals. This study offers light on the mechanisms put in place to safeguard buyers from unscrupulous methods by assessing specific agreements and legislation. Furthermore, it investigates RERA’s positive influence on the real estate industry, such as improvements in the homebuying experience and the growth of customer trust.

Property investment has grown in significance as a technique for assuring financial security in the future. However, the boom in demand has also resulted in an increase in real estate scams, putting naive buyers at danger. Understanding market analysis and exercising caution during real estate purchases are essential for avoiding fraud. This article outlines various types of property fraud and provides buyers with tips on how to avoid these risks.

Research Methodology:

This article is descriptive in nature, and the research is relied on secondary sources for a thorough examination of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act. For the research, secondary sources such as journals, and websites are employed and primary sources such as precedents and statutes are used.

Review of Literature:

The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, is an essential component of legislation in India that aims to regulate the real estate market and protect the rights of homebuyers. It requires all real estate projects to be registered, with exceptions for minor constructions under 500 square meters or with less than eight units.

The RERA Act also addresses deceptive advertising in the real estate industry. It compels developers to provide accurate and transparent information about their projects, outlaws deceptive or misleading advertising, and imposes penalties and legal ramifications for noncompliance. This clause is intended to safeguard homebuyers from misleading marketing methods and to encourage transparency in the real estate industry.

The introduction of these RERA laws has had a substantial influence on the real estate business, boosting openness and accountability, decreasing the number of unregistered projects, and fostering market trust and confidence. The restriction on deceptive advertising has leveled the playing field for developers, lowering fraudulent tactics and boosting marketing material quality.

The RERA Act has been essential in tackling unregistered projects and deceptive advertising in India, increasing openness, accountability, and consumer protection. To fully accomplish RERA’s aims, additional measures are required to ensure effective enforcement, raise awareness among stakeholders, and solve new challenges.

Analysis: Reality Check

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that “Real Estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.” Numerous real estate scams in India, such as the Amrapali Scam in Delhi NCR and similar instances, have scared property buyers away from investing in real estate. The RERA Act was designed to control this; however, the question is whether or not the RERA Act is providing justice to homebuyers. What about projects that have not been registered with the RERA Authority? Is the Real Estate Regulatory Authority responsible for unregistered projects? Is the RERA Act efficient in combating false advertising in the country? This paper will address all of these concerns.


Jurisdiction is the capacity or power of a given court, legal structure, or governmental body to hear and decide on a specific case or subject matter. It specifies the parameters beneath which a court or authority can exercise its legal sovereignty.

Section 3(1) [1]of RERA prohibits a promoter from promoting, selling, or proposing to sell any plot, apartment, or building in a real estate project without officially registering it with the Authority. Certain real estate developments are excluded from RERA registration under Section 3(2)[2].

A review of the orders and judgments passed by the Authorities in the states of Maharashtra, Haryana, and Punjab reveals that a common issue that these Authorities are occupied with from time to time is their jurisdiction to entertain complaints concerning unregistered projects.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation, it is necessary to recognize the many types of projects that would remain ‘unregistered’ under RERA. Small projects, projects that have acquired completion certifications, and renovation projects are examples of such projects that have been specifically exempted under Section 3(2). However, it is worth noting that ‘unregistered’ projects would also include real estate projects that were needed to be registered under Section 3[3], but were not registered in contravention of RERA requirements. The following is how the legal framework in the subject matter has evolved:

  • Haryana

The Haryana Real Estate Regulatory Authority, Panchkula (“HARERA Panchkula”) settled the question of whether the Authority has jurisdiction over unregistered projects in its landmark judgement in Sanju Jain v. TDI Infrastructure Ltd.[4]. Furthermore, the Authority decided that, in terms of the applicability of RERA legislation to promoters of unregistered projects:

Section 34(f) [5]of the Act outlines the functions and duties of a promoter, excluding the term “promoter of a registered project.” This ensures that the promoter’s duties, responsibilities, and obligations to allottees are met, regardless of the completion or occupation certificate. The Act does not explicitly state that a promoter’s duties cease after receiving the completion certificate, and the Authority has jurisdiction to hear allottee complaints. The issuing of a partial or full completion certificate is not conclusive proof of project completion in accordance with the sale agreement. If the project is not developed in the manner promised, the allottee may have a grievance against the promoter and invoke the Authority’s jurisdiction for redressal. The Authority must examine the project’s status to assess if the promoter has fulfilled their duties in development works. Therefore, no promoter can excuse themselves from fulfilling their obligations based on obtaining a completion certificate, and the Authority has jurisdiction to hear complaints filed against a promoter for non-performance of their obligations.

The Haryana Real Estate Regulatory Authority, Gurugram (“HARERA Gurugram”) issued an important ruling in this context in the case of Simmi Sikka v. Emaar MGF Land Limited[6], in which the HARERA Gurugram said:

The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act of 2016 does not say specifically that it only applies to registered developments. The Act broadens its applicability to include a broader variety of projects without imposing any restrictions based on registration status.

While the Act exempts certain types of projects from the registration requirement, they are nevertheless subject to its overall restrictions. Section 3(2) of the Act lists these exempted projects; however, they are not free from the Act’s other duties. This means that, even though these projects do not need to be registered, the promoters are still required to follow the Act’s other conditions.

The regulations pertaining to registration and obligations during registration are particular to registered projects under the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act of 2016. These laws spell out the standards that developers must meet when registering their projects with the appropriate regulatory body.

In addition, any person who has a grievance to the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, the Haryana Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Rules, 2017, and related laws may register a complaint. This covers complaints about real estate properties that qualify as real estate projects under the Act’s section 2(z)(n). [7]The Act does not limit the scope of complaints to only registered projects, but also allows complaints to be lodged against unregistered projects.

Based on the judgments stated, it is clear that HARERA Panchkula and HARERA Gurugram have similar perspectives on their jurisdiction to address concerns about unregistered projects. These agencies have underlined their power to hear complaints and have stated that, while certain projects are exempt from RERA registration, they are nonetheless subject to the Act’s duties. As a result, promoters of unregistered projects must comply with the stipulated promoter duties under RERA.

  • Maharashtra

In one of its previous judgements[8], the Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority, Mumbai (“MahaRERA”) full bench said unequivocally that “MahaRera gets jurisdiction to entertain only those petitions that are related to a registered project.”

However, the Authority then altered its stance and took efforts to update its software in order to receive concerns about unregistered projects. This breakthrough was observed by the Bombay High Court in the case of Mohammed Zain Khan v. Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority & Ors.[9], as follows:

“In the opinion of the first respondent’s advocates, the online technical platform has grown insufficient to assess complaints about developments that are still not registered with the RERA Act.” It is also mentioned that the required software changes/upgrades will be completed within fifteen days. The Petitioner shall be able to register the complaint in accordance with the rules established in that regard whenever the MahaRERA completes the process of improving the software competent of accepting online grievances in respect of unregistered projects within the time period stated above. The Petitioner’s and other similarly situated complainants’ online complaint in connection to unregistered projects would be accepted and processed in accordance with the mechanism that MahaRERA has developed for the resolution of complaints in relation to registered projects.”

The aforementioned MahaRERA attitude has also been supported in subsequent decisions, which have upheld its jurisdiction to hear complaints concerning unregistered developments. While the previous decisions discussed the Authority’s general jurisdiction over unregistered projects, it should be noted that, in the case of Sagar Fulzade v. M/s. Vedant Buildcon[10], a Single Member of MahaRERA, while disposing of a series of 25 (twenty-five) complaints by a single order, addressed a project that was excluded under Section 3(2) of RERA because it was already given its completion certificate prior to the commencement of RERA.

Regarding the preliminary objections raised by the respondent, and the maintainability of the complaints that are not a component of this enrolled project, the MahaRERA holds that the respondent has started the project with an overall count of 5 buildings, of which he has completed 2 buildings, namely A and B, and obtained occupancy certificates for the said buildings in part, and a few buildings are yet to be completed. The promoter is required by Section 19(3) of the RERA Act to hand over possession of the flat to the buyer upon delivery of the completion certificate. Despite the fact that the respondent obtained occupancy certificates for a few buildings holding the complainants’ apartments, possession of the same has not been given in this case. It reveals that, despite the completion of the respondent’s project, the respondent’s duty to relinquish possession of the unit was not accomplished in accordance with Section 4[11] of the MOFA 1963 and Sections 18 [12]& 19 (3) [13]of the RERA Act, 2016. The respondent in this case cannot deny the homebuyers’ entitlement. As a result, the MahaRERA believes that this Authority has jurisdiction to hear these complaints.”

It is worth noting here that, according to the aforementioned viewpoint, MahaRERA not only has jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes relating to unregistered projects, but also the power to hold promoters of unregistered projects liable for non-compliance with promoter obligations under RERA. 

  • Punjab

The Real Estate Regulatory Authority, Punjab (“Punjab Authority”) has taken a radically opposed approach to the maintainability of complaints relating to projects that are not registered under RERA. The majority view of the Punjab Authority’s full bench in the case of Bikramjit Singh & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Ors.[14] was that complaints regarding unregistered projects would not be maintainable before the Punjab Authority, as the Authority lacks the jurisdiction to adjudicate on such complaints:

Despite the fact that it is not specifically stated in the Act, in my opinion, the above-mentioned structure and sequencing imply that complaints against promoters regarding unregistered projects cannot be made.”If this were not the case, promoters who do not register their projects would be subject to both the Authority’s guidelines and fines. As a result, I have no problem declaring that, under the RERA Act, complaints against promoters may only be made in relation to projects that have been registered with this Authority; those against other promoters or projects may be filed before other forums or legal tribunals.

The RERA Act allows for complaints against promoters to be brought exclusively in connection to projects registered with the Authority, while complaints against other promoters/projects can be lodged in other forums/courts accessible under law. The legal framework has evolved over time, with the MahaRERA and Punjab authorities taking different approaches to maintain the jurisdiction of unregistered projects.

False Advertisement:

Section 12[15] of the RERA Act is a disciplinary provision that requires the promoter to compensate or repay the customer if the promoter collects an advance or deposit on the basis of a false or misleading advertisement. Many times, the promoter makes misleading claims in the advertisement and prospectus, or entices customers by showing them a model apartment/plot. Convinced, the buyer invests a large sum in the property, and it is only when the unit is delivered that the buyer learns he has been duped by the promoter. In such a circumstance, the buyer may invoke Section 12, which entitles him to compensation if he suffers any loss or injury as a result of the builder’s inaccurate and deceptive assertions. If the buyer decides to withdraw from the project, he is also entitled to a reimbursement of his investment plus interest.

The Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA) has also granted homeowners the right to withdraw from a project if the builder made false representations and gave misleading information in the brochure at the time of reserving the unit. The purchasers reserved a unit in the Ruparel Skygreens I’ project in Borivali. The MahaRERA resolved the dispute by ordering the builder to refund the total accepted sum, plus 2% interest.

Section 12 is retroactive, which means it will apply to any current projects for whom a completion certificate was not provided on the date of the passing of the RERA Act, 2016, as well as projects that began after the act’s implementation. This has been confirmed countless times by the courts.

The Bombay High Court concluded in its judgment dated 30th August 2021 in The Bombay Dyeing & Manufacturing Company Limited V/s Ashok Narang and Ors. that Section 12 is quasi retroactive in character and would apply to agreements formed into previous to the coming into force of the act. The High Court affirmed the RERA tribunal’s ruling against Bombay Dyeing, which built two “ultra-luxurious” towers in Wadala, and ordered it to repay buyers’ money with interest. The consumers reserved the flats in 2012-13, and the brochure stated that the flats would be delivered in 2017. It was determined that, under Section 12 of the RERA Act, the promoter shall be held accountable for the information provided to buyers prior to the project’s registration.

As previously stated, the RERA Act was enacted to defend the interests of buyers. Section 12 is one of the provisions in Chapter III of the act that imposes specific functions and duties on promoters. As a result, delivering accurate project information to the buyer is an obligation that the promoter must fulfil. To make the provision more enforceable, it is made punitive in character, so that it acts as a deterrent for the promoter not to participate in mischievous conduct such as supplying false information to the buyer in order to draw it into the project. As a result, section 12 is an essential aspect of the act and works in tandem with other provisions to achieve the act’s goals.


The RERA Authority should consider adopting the following ideas to prevent unregistered projects and fraudulent marketing in the real estate industry:

  • Strengthen Enforcement: The RERA Authority should strengthen its enforcement procedures to ensure that the registration criteria are strictly followed.
  • Public Awareness: The RERA Authority should conduct significant public awareness efforts to educate homeowners on the necessity of investing in registered projects and the risks associated with unregistered ones.
  • Streamlined Complaint procedure: To handle issues linked to unregistered projects and deceptive ads, the RERA Authority should build a user-friendly and efficient complaint procedure.
  • Collaboration with Consumer Protection authorities: To share information and coordinate efforts in countering unregistered projects and fraudulent advertising, the RERA Authority shall engage with consumer protection authorities and other relevant parties.
  • Stricter Penalties: Developers that engage in misleading advertising or operate unregistered projects should face harsher penalties under RERA. To dissuade such behaviour, large fines, cancellation of project approvals, and legal consequences should be applied.
  • Enhanced Monitoring and Compliance: To guarantee that registered developers meet their commitments, the RERA Authority should strengthen its monitoring and compliance systems.

The RERA Authority can greatly reduce the occurrence of unregistered projects and deceptive advertising in the real estate business by implementing these recommendations.


Given that land is a finite resource versus the infinite demand for real estate, RERA and the Authorities established under it will play a critical role in the future. Currently, the evolution of RERA jurisprudence is occurring at varying rates in different states. The rulings listed above show that each of the Authorities has different perspectives on the same subject, resulting in inconsistencies in the protection of allottees’ interests in different States.As a result, an allottee in Punjab is unable to file a complaint with the Authority against an unregistered project, although doing so in Maharashtra. An allottee from Haryana is not eligible for a refund, however an allottee from Karnataka is. The RERA’s intention to offer effective consumer protection, conformity, and standardization of business operations and transactions in the real estate market may be compromised by such differences of opinion on the same clause.

Name: Lakshman Singh

Year: Third Year

Course: BBA LLB(Hons.)

University: Shri Ramswaroop Memorial University, Lucknow-Deva Road

[1] Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, § 3(1), Acts of Parliament, 2016 (India).

[2] Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, § 3(2), Acts of Parliament, 2016 (India).

[3] Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, § 3, Acts of Parliament, 2016 (India).

[4] Sanju Jain v. TDI Infrastructure Ltd., Complaint No. 144 of 2018

[5] Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, § 34(f), Acts of Parliament, 2016 (India).

[6] Simmi Sikka v. Emaar MGF Land Limited, Complaint No. 7 of 2018

[7] Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, § 2(z)(n), Acts of Parliament, 2016 (India).

[8] Prasad Patkar v. Runwal Projects Pvt. Ltd. & Ors., Complaint No. CC006000000000182

[9] Mohammed Zain Khan v. Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority & Ors., W.P. (Lodging) No. 908 of 2018

[10] Sagar Fulzade v. M/s. Vedant Buildcon, Complaint No. CC005000000011536 & Ors.

[11] Maharashtra Ownership Flats (Regulation of the promotion of construction, sale, management and transfer) Act, 1963, § 4, Acts of Maharashtra State Legislature, 1963 (India)

[12] Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, § 18, Acts of Parliament, 2016 (India).

[13] Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, § 19(3), Acts of Parliament, 2016 (India).

[14] Bikramjit Singh & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Ors., Complaint No. 3 of 2017

[15] Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, § 12, Acts of Parliament, 2016 (India).