14 June 2012, Mumbai: If the straws blowing in the wind are any indication, a storm is approaching that will badly hurt the crores of ordinary cooperative housing society (CHS) members living in Maharashtra’s 85,000 societies, while bringing relief to members of managing committees, whose numbers are a mere fraction of these. In his speech, Co-operative Minister Harshvardan Patil, a chief guest at the Housing Melava held yesterday, said that the requirement for managing committees of CHS to compulsorily file M-20 Bonds within 45 days or face automatic dismissal may be removed. Also, provisions for appointing administrators nominated by the cooperatives department for replacing the expelled managing committees may be removed. And last but not least, new rules may be framed to make it easier for the managing committees of housing societies to expel members who were “troublemakers”. These remarks were made in the presence of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavhan and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, who appeared to concur with the views of Harshvardhan Patil, and, to the alarm of the RTI Union members present there, indicated that these changes may be only a couple of days away.
To observe 2012 as the International Year of Co-operatives, the Co-operative Dept. of Maharashtra had organised a seminar known as “Housing Melava” on the afternoon of Wednesday afternoon, 13 June, at Shanmukhanand Hall, Matunga. Besides Prithviraj Chavhan, Ajit Pawar and Harshvardan Patil leading bureaucrats like Gautam Chatterjee, Principal Secretary of the Housing Department, Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte, Registrar of Cooperatives Seshrao Sangle and officials of the housing and co-operative department were present in large numbers.
There has been constant lobbying pressure in co-operative housing circles and also the ministry of co-operatives to get co-operative housing societies exempted from the ambit of M-20 Bonds ever since the time co-operative housing societies were included and covered under the Act in 2001.
For details on the significance of M-20 Bonds, read http://tinyurl.com/RTI-Union-M20-Bond-Guide
Of over 85,000 co-operative housing societies in Maharashtra, about 50,000 are in Mumbai and Thane alone. Harshvardhan Patil said that the managing committees of these co-operative housing societies were facing problems from a few “troublemakers” in the societies who hindered them. The M-20 Bond is an undertaking given by each managing committee member, that explicitly states, “I shall be jointly and severally responsible for all the decisions taken by the Managing Committee during its term relating to the business of the society and shall be jointly and severally responsible for all the acts and omissions detrimental to the interest of the society as provided in section 73 (1AB) of the act.” In the absence of the M-20 Bond, the MCS Bye Laws are toothless as there is no provision for dismissal of the managing committees.
The need for such an undertaking was felt when the state legislature realized that the Managing Committee members of different Co-operative Societies (including housing societies) were acting in an arbitrary manner. The provision for CHS was introduced to introduce some accountability amongst the members of the managing committee by executing a bond within 45 days of their election after its elections or assuming office, whichever is sooner. If a managing committee member fails to execute the bond within 45 days, then he is deemed to have vacated his office. This provision makes the managing committee more sober and accountable.
Many members of RTI Union were present at this meeting, and were disappointed. RTI Union condemns the proposed move to dilute the existing rules and laws to the advantage of managing committee members, and the great disadvantage of ordinary members who are bullied and harassed into submission. We urge the government to make housing society rules and laws even more stringent so as to enable strict penalties on erring managing committee members.
To get an overview of problems between members and managing committees, read these two articles.
JB Patel (Jeby)