Housing societies in Mumbai may soon be able to conduct polls
Housing societies that have fewer than 200 members may soon be able to hold their elections in the annual general meeting, every five years. So far, the societies had to request a government body, Maharashtra State Cooperative Election Authority (MSCEA), to conduct their elections, making the procedure tedious and expensive.
The government on Friday decided to dilute the provision related to the elections of cooperative housing societies. Of more than 2 lakh cooperative societies in the state, 1 lakh are cooperative housing societies. Of them, 80,000 have fewer than 200 members.
Mumbai has about 20,000 housing societies with fewer than 200 members.
The state cabinet on Thursday decided to incorporate a separate chapter as section 154(b) in Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act (MCSA), 1960 to govern housing societies independently, separating them from profit-making cooperative societies such as sugarcane factories, credit societies and banks.
The section proposes to redefine registration, election procedure, disqualification of members, voting rights, fund raising liberties, among others.
The constitutional amendment in the MCSA in 2013 made it compulsory for the Authority to conduct the elections. This led to a rise in the expenditure and corruption. Taking the number of complaints by housing societies into account, the government appointed a committee in February 2017 to suggest changes.
“Housing societies are not profit-making societies and need to be treated differently. We had received complaints of difficulties in holding the elections. The reservation for backward classes and women was another contentious issue, as finding members from reserved categories was tough in some cases,” said an official from the cooperation department.
The state government will now introduce a bill to amend the MCS Act. It has also proposed to amend section 73(c)(b) to simplify the process for members with voting rights. “We had suggested exemption from election by MSCEA, simplifying the definition of the members with voting rights by giving status of joint member to legal heir and constituting a regulatory authority to address disputes within societies,” said Ramesh Prabhu, chairman, Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association, and member of the panel.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “A bill will be introduced in the legislature. We are proposing different provisions for societies based on the number of their members.”
The state cabinet has not taken any decision on constituting the regulatory authority, as it feels that there was no immediate need to have one more body to govern the societies, as the proposed amendment will help in most of the disputes.