Mumbai: Housing societies await new, 'improved' cooperative act

Updated: Jan 09, 2020, 08:42 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

The new act, likely to be released in a fortnight, is expected to include the feedback sent in hundreds by housing activists, individuals.

New act is likely to include the many suggestions sent to the state cooperative department. Representation picture
New act is likely to include the many suggestions sent to the state cooperative department. Representation picture

With the new state government finally up and working, it is likely to announce the new cooperative act in a couple of weeks. The act governs the functioning of state-wide housing societies (CHS) which were barred from holding elections till December 31. Housing activists claimed that the new act is likely to include the many suggestions sent to the state cooperative department.

A senior Mantralaya official of the cooperative department told mid-day that over a hundred suggestions and objections have been received regarding the cooperative act “but the entire department is working on the farmers’ loan waiver on top priority.” He said, “The housing election rules matter is yet to be finalised and work on it is under process. It will gain momentum only once the farmers' loan waiver concludes."

Most of the suggestions, the official said, are regarding continuing the old practice of letting housing societies, with less than 250 members, conduct their own elections. "We will be putting forward all the suggestions before the committee formed to frame the new rules. The committee's final decision will be put before the Cabinet Minister for Cooperation Balasaheb Patil and also the Law and Judiciary department before it is made public, which should take another fortnight to a month," he added.

Committee’s amendments
Sources in the Cooperation Department told mid-day that the core committee making the decision comprises seven officials (five from cooperative department and two from the federation of societies) and is headed by Sandeep Deshmukh, additional registrar cooperative society, presently working in SRA. The committee has prepared the draft rules for the new housing chapter under the MCS act. "We have also made a few amendments to the MCS Act. Having members from the reserved category in the housing committee is recommended, the minimum number of people for conducting elections has been brought down, a concept of cooperative housing association is being introduced to facilitate the formation of an association of less than five societies for conveyance matters, a concept of new members like joint and provisional members is introduced, a penalty of R25,000 on the management committee is introduced for not allowing inspection of society documents by a member," said the officer.

Residents’ suggestions
Amongst the ones who have submitted suggestions to the draft is Ramesh Prabhu, chairman of MahaSeWA (Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association). "We have sent our feedback in writing to Abha Shukla, principal secretary, Co-operation Department, wherein we have objected to some of the points stated in the amended rules. A secret ballot for housing society elections and a 15-day period for the election process are some of the suggestions made,” Prabhu told mid-day.

Initial proposals in draft rules and suggestions by MahaSeWA:

1) Proposed: Voting may be conducted by a show of hands or by secret ballot if demanded by more than one-fifth of the members present in the meeting.
Suggestion: Voting should be done through secret ballot papers only as it helps maintain secrecy.

2) Proposed: Returning Officer shall be appointed by the committee of the housing society having less than or up to 250 members from a panel of Returning Officers approved by SCEA (State Co-operative Election Authority) and maintained by Divisional Joint Registrar before 60 days of the expiry of the tenure of the existing committee.
Suggestion: Members who are not candidates in the election or proposed/seconded candidature of any member, should be permitted to become the Returning Officer. There must be more clarity and simplicity in the appointment of Returning Officer.

3) Proposed: No appeal for the omission of members from the voters list by the Returning Officer.
Suggestion: Appeal should be provided with the Deputy Registrar as per the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, 1960.

4) Proposed: The entire election program is done on the same day – inviting the candidate, scrutiny of nomination, rejection of nomination, withdrawal of nomination, and counting of votes.
Suggestion: A period of 15 days be given in the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act and election program should be divided into different dates for different activities.

Rs 25K
Proposed penalty on housing societies for not allowing inspection of society documents by a member

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