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Election Procedure for Housing Societies

October 12, 2018
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In this article, Ranojoy Middya discusses Election Procedure for Housing Societies.

Introduction

When it comes to the elections within the Co-operative Housing Societies, the importance of Bye-laws has always been pivotal in nature. But, with the advent of new Model Bye-laws now the election procedures have seen an epic growth in the very management of the affairs of the Co-operative Housing Society which solely vests in the Committee of the Management duly elected by the General Body of the Society that too being in consonance with the provisions of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960 and the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Rules, 1961. So let’s see how it is conducted in consonance with the new Model Bye-laws.

Initial Stage

Due date of the election to the Committee

In actual terms, the elections are supposed to be held on 14th August every year during the Annual General meeting but it hasn’t been followed most of the times. Instead, they are held sometime later during the year.

As per Bye-laws, the election must be held on or before the completion of 5 years from the date of the previous election. The period of 5 years commences from the very date of the previous election. Hence, an election on 1st October 2012 would be succeeded with the next election on or before 1st October 2017. In order to conduct the announcement of the election results, a Special General Body Meeting must be called for.

Removal of Restriction on Voting Rights

With the advent of the very amendment of Section 27 of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act 1960, the waiting period of two years for voting rights had been removed. As a result of such, any eligible member or an associate member with the consent of 1st member can contest the election immediately after seeking membership and his admission is made as a member of the society.

Election candidature of a Member, Proposer, and Seconder in arrears of the society

Election Procedure

Management of the Society

No of Members The strength of the M.C Quorum in M.C
General Women Total
Up to 50 4 1 5 3
51 to 100 6 1 7 4
101 to 300 8 1 9 5
301 and above 9 2 11 6

In case of the unavailability of women members in representing the committee, the seats which are reserved for them may be filled by other eligible members.

The strength of the committee

The committee must be comprised of various numbers of members of the society. It could vary from 5 to 11 at the max. This strength includes the reservation of seats for women members as provided under section 73 BBB of the Act, as indicated in the above table.

Election of the Managing Committee (MC) under Bye-law No.116

Disqualification for election to the Managing committee. Bye-law 118

No person shall be eligible for being elected as a member of the MC or Co-opted on it, if:

Constitution of a member of the committee

Cessation of a member of the committee under Bye-law no.120

A person shall cease to be the member of the committee, if:

Intimation of cessation of membership of the committee

In case any of the members of the committee gets disqualified under the bye-law No. 120 (1), the committee then shall be obliged to record the fact in the minutes of the meeting and following such record the secretary of the society shall intimate the same to the respective member and Registrar accordingly. Henceforth, such member would cease to be the member of Managing Committee by the very virtue of the order of the Registrar.

Period of office to the elected Committee

Election of office bearers of the society

Period of office of the chairman/secretary and ‘No Confidence’ motion against either

To fill in vacancies of the committee

The period of office of the member co-opted on the Committee

Resignation by a member of the Committee

The resignation of the office-bearer ship of the society

Who can become a Returning Officer 

A returning officer has been appointed from amongst the members of the society provided he is not intending to contest the election or propose or second any candidature. If no member is willing to work as a returning officer, the registering authority shall appoint a returning officer. The society will have to pay the honorarium to the said returning officer for working as a returning officer. The amount will be related to the number of members of the society and numbers of candidates to be elected.

Duties of Returning Officer

Duties of returning are spelled out in the Election Rules;

Election Rules

Submission of copies of the stated Programme to the register and the concerned Housing Federation
Last date from making nominations. 7 days from the date of declaration election programme.
The date of publication of the list of nominations received. On the last date and after the expiry of the time for nomination.
Date of scrutiny of Nominations. Next day of the date making nomination.
Date of publication list of valid Nominations. Next day after the date of completion of scrutiny.
Date of which candidature may be withdrawn After clearing 15 days from the date of scrutiny.
Date of Publication of final list of contesting candidates. The day next succeeding the last date fixed for withdrawal of candidature.
Date and time during which and the place at which the poll shall be taken Minimum 5 days after the date of withdrawal (time & place to be fixed by Returning Officer)
Date time and place for counting votes Immediately after polling is over.
Date of declaration of results of the voting Immediately after counting of votes.

Explanation:– If the last date in reckoning dates as specified in the above cases is a public holiday, the next succeeding working day shall be mixed for the respective events.

The functions of the Returning Officer shall be as under;

1 Conducting a detailed programme of election to the Managing Committee of the society, after taking into consideration the various stages of the election process, as enumerated in 9 above.
2 Having a detailed check on the received nominations, and scrutinize them accordingly. Once done, he exhibits a list of valid nominations along with the list of final nominations remaining after withdrawal of nominations, if any,
3 Arranging for election by ballot in accordance with the provisions of the Election Rules.
4 Furnishing the result of the election to the Chairman of the society for being declared at the General Body meeting/special general body meeting of the society.
5 Executing other required and incidental actions which favor the election of Managing Committee of the society! The nominations from members shall be in form at Appendix ‘B’ appended to the Rules.
6 No members of the society shall be eligible to participate in the election of the society, If;
  • He is in arrears in respect of any charges and any other amounts due to the society, as on the date of scrutiny of nomination papers.
  • He has incurred any of the disqualifications as mentioned in the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Rules, 1960 and Maharashtra Co-op Societies Rules, 1961 and the bye-laws of the society.
7 The nominations received till the last date and hour fixed for receiving nominations shall be scrutinized by the Returning Officer on the date fixed for scrutiny of nominations, in the presence of the candidates or their duly authorized representatives and the list of the valid nominations shall be published on the Notice Board of the society as per election programme. The candidates whose nominations are rejected shall be informed by the Returning Officer. in writing of the reasons for rejection of their nominations on the same day, in form at Appendix ‘B-2’.
8 The candidates, whose nominations have been declared valid shall be allowed time of 15 days (as required u/s 152 A of the M.C.S. Act 1960) from the date of publication of the list of valid nominations, to withdraw their candidature by means of a letter handed over to the Returning Officer.
9 Immediately after the expiry of the period allowed for withdrawal of candidature a final list of the candidates contesting the election shall be notified on the notice board of the society.
10 The voting at the election shall be secret Ballot.
11 The ballot paper shall be in the form of Appendix C’ appended to these Rules. It shall bear the seal of the society and the counterfoil thereof shall bear the initials of the Returning Officer.
12 The names of the candidates in the ballot paper shall be arranged in alphabetical order with surname appearing first.
13 The date, time and place of voting shall be as declared in the election programme.
14 The ballot box shall be so constructed that ballot papers could be conveniently put into it but could not be taken out, without the box being unlocked.
15 On the date of the polling, the empty ballot box shall be shown to the candidates or their authorized agents, if any and present 15 minutes before the time fixed for the commencement of the poll and shall be locked and sealed in their presence.
16 Once each member voter is satisfied with his or her identity and obtaining his or her signature on the counterfoil of the ballot paper, he or she must be supplied with an authenticated ballot paper.
17 Member-Voter coming to the polling station after the expiry of the time allowed for voting shall not be allowed to vote.
18 Immediately after the completion of voting, the ballot box shall be sealed in the presence of the candidates or their authorized representative if present.
19 The counting of votes shall be done immediately after the polling is over.
20 The Returning Officer shall submit to the Chairman of the Society a report indicating the numbers of voters who voted, the number of valid and invalid votes and the votes polled by each of them shall be put on the Notice Board of the society at the conclusion of the counting of votes.
21 The names of the candidates with voters polled by each of them shall put on the Notice Board of the society at the conclusion of the counting of votes.
22 The final result of the election shall be declared in the ensuing Annual General Body Meeting or Special General Body Meeting as the case may be.
23 All the records pertaining to the election shall be carefully preserved in box duly locked and sealed by the Secretary of the society for a period of 3 months and destroyed thereafter. However, if the result of the election is disputed, the records pertaining to an election shall be preserved until the final decision of the dispute.
24 The Committee shall be constituted as enumerated under section 73(3) of the M.C.S. Act 1960.
25 If for any reasons beyond the control of the society, it is not possible to observe the time schedule under these Rules, the Returning Officer of the society may revise the same with due notice to members and with due consent of the concerned Housing Federation. The Returning Officer shall inform such revision of schedule to the Registrar.

Amendments to bring about the reforms in the new election rule

The very new law has already taken a troublesome appearance towards the people who work in an honorary capacity in housing societies. And it is because of the mandate took place with the advent of this new rule in the year of 2013 that elections for cooperatives, including housing in the state, would be entitled to the Maharashtra State Co-operative Election Authority. Resulting from this, the very roadmap became very tedious and expensive for those who were forced to take the new route. There were even times when they were misled by the election officials when it came to charging the fee to conduct elections. Due to the flouted condition of rulings, the very members were left out with the practice of shelling out more money.

Fixation through Cabinet

The housing federations combining with the government became the first one to take up the very issue and also frames the functioning of housing societies as non-profit units unlike other cooperatives such as sugar factory and milk units. A sustained follow-up being backed by some ruling party leaders in Mumbai made its way for a positive response for the government. The Cabinet also introduced major changes in the law. Henceforth, housing societies having less than 200 members shall become eligible to hold their elections in the annual general meeting every five years.

Along with such relaxation, the Cabinet made sure that all the erring management committees were made accountable. In addition to that, concerning upon all the office bearers who do not submit audited accounts and other mandatory documents to the state cooperatives department within the set deadline, the cabinet has come up with a stringent rule which states the imposition of a fine of Rs 25,000. The members must come up with their self-declarations failing which would be considered as an offense.

Also in order to bring about a crystal clear matter, a separate chapter on governance of housing societies is being created in the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies (MCS) Act, 1960. An ordinance will be promulgated later this month.

Beneficiaries

Housing societies especially having less than 200 members are usually entitled to conduct their elections in the AGM. According to the co-operation department, about 80 percent of societies fall in the under the 200-member category. However, the social reservations and a quota for women would still remain in continuance inside the management committee. In addition to this election reforms, the government must be ready to ensure transparency in the housing society managements works which will eventually help the members who seek information and right to service have hassle-free services.

An amendment entitles the bonafide member to inspect all the records, books of accounts, and correspondence of the society that too in free of cost. This decision actually came into being with an aim to activate the management in terms of misleading the members. Majority of the cases through which the registrars of societies deal with on a daily basis are against the management resulting in which the information gets hidden or fabricated.

The penalty of R25,000 will come into existence for failing to submit accounts/documents to the government and society members. The management has been entitled with more powers to deal with a defaulting member to recover dues. Transferring provisional membership to the person nominated by a deceased member has also been made possible. This is because submission of legal documents of succession takes some time, and in the meantime, the family gets affected because of lack of rightful membership.

Opposing fine

It seems to be highly contentious to impose a fine of Rs 25,000 on office-bearers who are responsible for not submitting accounts and other documents to the members and the government. The elected members work in an honorary capacity and it is a known fact that not many residents come forward to take up the responsibility. The penalty clause will surely keep the people away despite their interest.

Conclusion

On a conclusive note, we must not overlook the thin layer of another emerging issue which talks about the inadequate knowledge of housing society law. It usually gets conversed into wrong interpretations by the people of management along with residents. The new law has corrected the flaw. It envisages the societies to put its impetus on contributing towards training and education of members through the local state housing federation. Yes, it might give a birth to an additional financial burden, but that would indeed be a useful one if the parties put their involvements with the assurance of conducting the training sessions regularly by the federation.

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