In a landmark ruling, the Delhi Cooperative Tribunal has said that members of housing societies based on community, language or religion cannot be prevented from selling flats to outsiders.
The tribunal also removed the ambiguity in the definition of ‘ownership’ and ‘membership’ in a society — often exploited by members to prevent sale of flats by filing suits in courts.
While an original member has every right to sell his flat to an outsider, discretion on grant of membership to the new entrant vests with the management committee, the panel said. There are approximately 125 societies based on caste, language or religion across Delhi. But their by-laws vary.
The ruling came after the panel dismissed a petition filed by four members of Sahyadri Apartments, formed by Maharashtrians in Patparganj, challenging the sale of a flat to an outsider. They contended the admission of an outsider would “dilute the society’s original character”.
Tribunal Chairperson Gita Sagar and Member M.L. Vijai said the general body is the only authority competent to decide whether the character of the society needs a change. “It may decide to change by-laws to make the society more cosmopolitan.”
Sahyadri Apartments secretary M N Lothe welcomed the ruling: “Our society by-laws state that any person shall be eligible to be a member of the society provided he is a Maharashtrian and knows the language. That does not stop an outsider from owning a house. But if he applies for membership, the general body will take a decision.”
Affirms M V B Shastri, committee member of the Telegu Kakatiya Society in Patparganj: “The ruling is in keeping with the modern times.”