Nineteen societies near Mumbai get notices for turning down non-Catholic tenants, buyers
The notice was issued after one Raju Gangaram Chalmala, was allegedly denied membership rights, by one of the societies, as he is a Protestant Christian.
Nineteen co-operative housing societies that are a part of The Citizen Housing Complex in Naigaon, Vasai-Virar have received notices from the sub-registrar of societies, Vasai division, for preventing non-Catholics from renting and purchasing flats or becoming members.
The March 7 notice was issued after Jitu Yadav, president, Real Estate Agents Welfare Association, complained to the sub-registrar that his acquaintance, Raju Gangaram Chalmala, was allegedly denied membership rights, such as share certificate, name on the nameplate, society records, etc, by one of the societies, as he is a Protestant Christian.
The 19 societies that received the notice consist of a total of 57 wings, having 912 flats. The notice, of which HT has a copy, says: “It has been brought to our notice that the office-bearers of these societies are working on their own will and are not allowing members from other communities to rent or purchase flats. They are asked to address the issue; otherwise relevant action will be taken as per the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, 1960.”
This is the second notice from the Vasai sub-registrar, who had, in 2017, asked Citizen Violet Co-operative Housing Society to register Chalmala as an owner in their records. Chalmala had bought a flat in the society in 2012. He said while he got other documents, such as electricity bill transferred to his name, the society office-bearers refuse to register his name in their records. “They don’t ask me my caste. They ask me to find the original owner…They didn’t give me membership just because I am a Protestant.”
However, office-bearers from some of these societies refused to accept they got any such notice. “We were asked to accept people from other communities by the registrar. We recently decided everyone will be given flats in our societies,” said John Matthew, chairperson of Citizen Sunflower Co-op Housing Society. Yadav said only Catholics are allowed to stay in the 19 societies; members from other communities are not allowed to purchase or rent flats. “Few people who married Catholics are allowed to stay there with the spouse’s name on the board.”
Experts of co-operative societies law said an individual cannot be restricted from purchasing, renting or leasing a property by a society on the basis of their community. Vinod Sampat, president, Co-operative Societies Residents Welfare Association said the concept of a co-operative society is open membership, and no one can be denied membership on the basis of caste, creed or sex.