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New 'chapter' in CHS regulation in Maharashtra

Friday, November 03, 2017

To ease handling of housing society affairs, the state government has set up a committee which will look to resolve grievances by drafting a separate chapter dedicated to housing in the Co-operatives Act. Housing expert Ramesh S. Prabhu looks into the development in detail

The Government of Maharashtra in the beginning of this  year constituted a committee to draft separate chapter for regulating the co-operative housing society (CHS) in Maharashtra. There are nearly 54 types of co-operative housing societies regulated under the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960(MCS Act). The majority of the provisions are included in the Model bye-laws of the society which are approved by the commissioner for their adoption by the respective types of societies. As per the decision of the Honourable Supreme Court, the bye-laws do not have force of law. This has increased the disputes and implementation of some of the provisions of the bye-laws have become difficult.

The housing society is a unique type of society. The members may be having subscribed the shares of Rs.250/- or Rs.500/- but enjoy the occupancy and ownership of the flats costing lakhs to crores of rupees. Any person who purchases a flat in a society is forced to become the member giving away the main character  of voluntary membership.

In any urban area, a house can be purchased in a multi-storey building called as flat with all common areas like  garden, water supply, common terrace, playground, compound, staircase, lift, etc. In order to own and manage these common areas, a co-operative housing society is registered under MCS Act, 1960.

Some of the areas which requires clarity in the proposed separate chapter for CHS are as under:
1 Associate member and joint member: Presently, the MCS Act, 1960 provides that the person whose name stands second or third or so on are called as the associate member. In the absence of clarity, any relative of the member is made as an associate member in CHS. Such associate members enjoy voting rights and then become the committee member and office bearers. This has created huge disputes in number of societies and it is suggested that the new chapter should define clearly who can be called as the associate member and who can be called as the joint member with their respective rights, duties, obligations and termination.

2 Election in the Co-operative Housing Society and reservation in the committee: Presently, election to all types of CHS is carried out by the officer appointed by the state co-operative Election Authority which is time and money consuming. It is suggested that the societies having less than 200 members should be able to conduct the election themselves by appointing officer as per the panel maintained by the election authority. The reservation for Other backward class (OBC), Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), etc should be done away with. Reservation only for women may be provided and when they are vacant may be filed by the general candidates.

3 A separate Regulatory Authority for dispute redressal: The members having come from different background and having forced to accept the membership of CHS, some times gives rise to different types of disputes related to water supply, leakage, structural repairs, NOC for sale of flats, renovation, redevelopment, recovery of dues etc. If an independent authority is set up, the members to resolve their disputes need not run to different forums like Co-operative court, or registrar, police, Municipal Corporation, etc. All such disputes can be heard centrally.

4 Formation of the association in a layout: The layout sometime has different types of legal bodies managing their respective buildings like few buildings have company, few have condominium and others have CHS. In order to get the conveyance of entire layout and to manage the common layout, an association of all such legal entities may be done which is presently not possible. Even, an association with two or more entities should be provided for.

5 Registration of CHS with 5 or more flats: The CHS now requires minimum 10 flats. The law should be made to give option even for registration of CHS with 5 societies. If possible with two flats also, like the one provided as private limited under Companies Act with two shareholders.

6 Issue circulars and notification for smooth functioning: Presently, all administrative circulars are issued by the commissioner and it takes lot of time to decide on the same. If the regulatory authority is designated, it is easier for such authority to bring out the timely and required notifications for smooth functioning from time to time.

7 Education and training to the members: A separate body under the control of the government should be set up to provide regular training to the members. Presently, the same is managed by the notified institutions. The societies are not undergoing such trainings.

8 Classification: The societies may be divided into two or three classification depending on the number of members and smaller societies with less numbers may be given number of concessions.

9 Digital transparency: Each society should be asked to open a webpage on the government website on which all the details, minutes, records of the society should be updated regularly. This will bring lot of transparency in the working of the society.

10 Smooth functioning: Disseminating the information to the members is a most important thing in any democratic set up. Therefore, bringing e-governance and right to information and right to services in the functioning of the CHS through a separate regulatory will go a long way in improving the working of the society.

(Ramesh S. Prabhu is Chairman, Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association)

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