The 97th constitutional amendment, which is aimed at bringing autonomy and transparency to the co-operative sector, could prove to be problematic for co-operative housing societies.
The amendment could leave the nearly 80,000 housing societies in the city to their own devices, without any checks and balances from the state co-operation department. The reason: it does away with the state’s provision to appoint an administrator. In fact, after the amendment becomes binding on February 15, citizens will not even be able to file complaints with the registrar of the co-operation department.
“In case of disputes, the state government has no powers to appoint an administrator for housing societies that are not aided by us. It is a concern,” said state co-operation minister Harshawardhan Patil.
For instance, Patil said, officebearers of a housing society could hand over a redevelopment project to a builder of their choice without consensus. The government has powers to suggest changes within the larger framework, and it has recommended the appointment of an in-house grievance redressal committee to handle disputes.
Experts said that given that many housing societies, especially in metros such as Mumbai, are ridden with disputes, an in-house committee may become a bigger issue. “There has to be a check from the government, otherwise officebearers will not be accountable to anyone. This leaves the room wide open for irregularities. The only recourse would be co-operative courts, which like any other court of law, takes time,” said advocate Vinod Sampat, an expert on housing society laws.
However, Rajgopal Devera, co-operation department secretary, said there is a clause that allows the state to suspend and supersede the managing committee or the board of directors under exceptional circumstances. “On the whole, housing societies will not be affected by the amendment. They will not need to hold new elections as most societies have less than 21 members.”
NCP legislator and party spokesperson Nawab Malik said: “The state has room to make bye-laws and provisions within the larger constitutional framework. But enough thought has not gone into this. State control of all co-operative societies on the lines of the 73rd and 74th amendment is possible.”