Two-kid rule in Maharashtra’s housing societies made to promote family planning: Experts
After three committee members of a housing society in Sion were suspended from their posts for having more than two children, legal experts have said that similar incidents have taken place in the past. Last year, a housing society in Mumbai Central suspended two men under a provision of the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, 1960, while similar action was taken at housing societies in Powai and Kandivli a few years ago.
Originally a sprawling colonial-era chawl with 87 housing units in Sion, Rahat Plaza CoOp Hsg Society Ltd was registered as a single society in 2016. The actions were taken under section 73 C(A) of the act, which bars people with more than two children from contesting elections in residential societies.
According to the provision of the law, if such a person is elected, the registrar has the power to disqualify the person. The provision was introduced through an amendment in 2001. However, experts, who said the amendment was brought in to encourage family planning and spread awareness about population control, have mixed opinions.
“The provisions aren’t used often because not many people are aware of them. Not a lot of people take up the responsibility of becoming members of housing committees. Hence, elections aren’t held for the positions and people are appointed without election,” said Jeby Patel, housing society activist. Patel said it is a useful provision, but should be applied to members of co-operative societies and not co-operative housing societies.
“If the provision is used as a population control measure, there should be laws that people with more than two children cannot avail government amenities, and there should be a uniform application for all,” Patel said.
Vinod Sampat, president, Co-operative Societies Residents Welfare Association, said that a similar clause is also enforceable upon those in government jobs and positions.
“The law is not applicable in retrospect. So lawmakers, who already had more than two children before the provision was brought into force, can still stay in office. But those who had kids later cannot. It is applicable for all governmental and semi-governmental organisations,” said Sampat.