13/06/2016 11:43 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST

It Could Soon Become Illegal For Builders To Discriminate Against Caste, Gender, Sexual Orientation

Rupak De Chowdhuri / Reuters
A labourer walks on an iron frame at the construction site of a residential complex on the outskirts of Kolkata, India, November 2, 2015. India's infrastructure output grew at its fastest pace in four months to 3.2 percent in September from a year ago, mainly driven by higher production of electricity and fertilisers, government data showed on Monday. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

The central government plans to include an anti-discrimination clause in the new Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) that could provide jail terms or fines to builders found to discriminate against buyers based on their caste, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, among other things, The Indian Express reported.

“Since the Constitution itself provides for non-discrimination, we will insert such a clause in the rules," an official with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MHUPA) was quoted as saying in the report by Shalini Nair of the Indian Express. The official added that the ministry will refrain from specifying the exact nature of discrimination as by doing so it could potentially leave out other forms of discrimination not mentioned in the act.

The Real Estate Act went into effect earlier this year, providing much needed relief to home buyers against the malpractices of home builders. The proposed clause against discrimination may not apply to tenants and landlords of rented properties as the Real Estate Act, as it stands today, only protects home buyers.

According to the Indian Express Report, ministry officials were also considering a similar anti-discriminatory clause in the draft model Rental Housing policy.

Under the provisions of the Real Estate Act which went into effect on May 1, additional regulatory bodies will be set up to protect home buyers’ interest and hold builders accountable, providing legal recourse to victims of housing fraud. The proposed bodies will work to ensure the timely delivery of homes and new appellate courts will be introduced within one year to adjudicate dispute cases. Violators may be slapped with fines and imprisonment of up to three years.

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