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Maharashtra: Ambiguity in housing society poll rules allowing takeover by administrators, say experts

Updated on: 01 February,2023 07:43 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Vinod Kumar Menon |

Experts say committees are not being allowed be formed due to lack of requisite SC/ST, OBC and Special Backward Class members

Maharashtra: Ambiguity in housing society poll rules allowing takeover by administrators, say experts

The Maharashtra State Housing Federation wrote to the authorities about the issue two weeks ago. File pic

The Maharashtra State Housing Federation and Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association (MahaSEWA) have raised a red flag pertaining to the framing of election rules for E-type housing societies, where members are less than or up to 250 members, in the state.

They have now sought clarity from the commissioner for cooperation and registrar, co-operative societies, as most such housing societies are in the process of conducting mandatory elections, and varying orders from the co-operative department on the candidature of members (general/reserved) has raised ambiguity and expose an alleged nexus between co-operative department office-bearers and third-party administrators.

Advocate Shreeprasad Parab, expert director, Maharashtra State Housing Federation, said, “We have brought to the notice of the commissioner two glaring issues in our letter issued two weeks ago, pertaining to the election rules framed for E-type housing societies. Some issues need to be clarified at the earliest.”

“There were many diverse orders from the authorities with regard to the constitution of the committee. There were many orders from the authorities misinterpreting provisions of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies (MCS) Act, thereby proceeding to appoint authorised officers/administrators. An authorised officer/administrator was, thus, appointed for Hiranandani Garden Society in Powai for having less than 10 nominations,” explained Advocate Parab.

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Ramesh Prabhu, founder chairman of MahaSEWA said, “Considering the unique features of housing societies, a chapter for them, XIII B Section 154B-1 to 154B-31, was included in the MCS Act on March 9, 2019. Section 154B-20 prescribes reserving three seats each in committees for SC/ST, OBC and Special Backward Class (SBC) candidates. Under Section 154B-21, two seats are reserved for women, in addition to the general category. As per Section 154B-19(2), the committee gets constituted after more than two-thirds of the candidates are elected. In a number of housing societies, reserved seats remain vacant, making it a challenge to constitute the committee. This issue never gets resolved by the co-operative department because of its alleged nexus with administrators.”

“Maharashtra has over 1.25 lakh registered co-operative housing societies, and the issues is rampantly witnessed in the MMR, where administrators can get appointed forever, especially in cases where co-operative department officials refuse to accept the nomination of general category people who form two-thirds majority due to reserved members not residing in the society or contesting the election,” explained Prabhu.

“They (the department) deliberately appoint administrators, who, on an average, are expected to oversee six to seven societies, on a mere remuneration of R1,500 to R2,000 per month per society. Once he gets control of a society, the administrator appoints a manager on his behalf at a salary of R25,000 per month, of which a fixed cut goes to the administrator who may call for unwanted repairs. Imagine the plight of members residing in small societies which will never be able to elect their own committee due to the non-availability of reserved-category members, mandated under the Act. This is unfair,” said Prabhu.

Landmark order

In a case filed against Tilak Safalya Co-operative Housing Society at Tilaknagar for having only six members—all from the general category—elected to its committee, Deputy Registrar Prashant Sonawane vide his order dated January 5, held that the newly elected committee was valid, keeping vacant the reserved seats for which no nomination was received.

State Housing Federation

Section 154B-19 (2) and Section 154B-22 state that if the reserved seats are not available or if no one has been elected to them, the committee shall be constituted as per Section 154 B-19 (2), that is more than two-thirds of the general-category seats prescribed according to the Bye-Law No 114, explained advocate Parab.

“If the above interpretation was not allowed, many housing societies, which have no reserved seat members, will be in the hands of the authorised officers/administrators perpetually,” Parab concluded.

No. of registered co-op hsg societies in the state

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