By I C Naik
I suddenly realized that of late I have been liberally recommending members to rush to Courts be it Co-operative Court or Consumer Court or the Deputy Registrar as a Grievance Officer, for solving member’s problems. Besides being a protracted event resulting in strain to peace of mind and Pocket. Finally the Supreme Court is the limit you can go up to. Moreover the expenses these proceedings involve most members choose to stay put with their grievances. Under the circumstances what contribution can be expected of dissatisfied co-operators.
Some years ago (2010-11)Lokayukta mooted the idea of Grievance settlement. I was extremely well suited to Co-operative philosophy but it did not make any progress largely due to lack of interest shown by the Cooperative Commissioner’s office.
The level of enthusiasm even now is quite evident in the latest Model bye-laws 2014. This Model, it is claimed to be aligned to the Constitution (97th Amendment ) Act 2011 and the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Act 2013.
On website https://sahakarayukta.maharashtra.gov.in/1065/GR-/-Circulars–/-Laws-and-Acts two sets of Model bye-laws are posted. One of them namely 2014 has been forwarded by the Commissioner on 1 -11- 2013 to Mumbai District Housing Federation for printing and supplying to member societies at cost with a recommendation to adopt. The Other one does not seem to have been formally released. These two Models both claimed to be aligned to changed MCS Act 1960 has many contradictions and it is quite confusing as to which is correct in terms of the Constitution (97th Amendment ) Act 2011 and the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Act 2013.
In these contradictions, lies an example of indifference to encouraging peaceful settlement of grievances of members through painless internal cost free Process of presenting grievances before 3 wise men of one’s own housing society so as help both disputants to reach an amicable settlement.
New Section 89AB is reproduced verbatim to convince oneself about its utility.
“89AB. (1) There shall be a Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee in each society to deal with the grievances of the members and the society relating to its business and management to be constituted in the Annual General Body meeting of the society to hear and settle the grievances as far as may be practicable within a period of three months. The committee of a society shall make a report of such constitution of Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee to the Registrar.
(2) (a) The Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee shall consist of three active members of the society, who shall not be the members of committee of the society.
(b) The Chairman of the committee under sub-section (1) shall be a knowledgeable and senior member of the society; and the two other members of the society shall preferably be expert or having experience in such class of societies, and to whom the general body considers as independent and impartial.
(3) If any member, past member or any legal representative of the deceased member of a society has any grievance against any member of the society and if the parties agree to resolve the grievances by settlement, the party aggrieved shall submit written application to the Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee along with the documents which he relies upon. On receipt of the application, the Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee shall fix up a date and call upon the other party to submit its say along with the documents on which it relies and fix a date of meeting for settlement of the grievance amicably by compromise.
The Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee shall assist the parties, in an independent and impartial manner, in their attempt to reach an amicable settlement of their grievances, within the frame work of this Act, rules and the by-laws. The Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee may also give or make a proposal for settlement of the grievances between the parties.
(4) If the parties with the assistance of the Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee reach a settlement agreement, they would draw up a settlement agreement. After considering the settlement agreement, the Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee shall draw a final settlement agreement resolving the grievances.
(5) When the final settlement agreement is drawn up, the parties shall sign the settlement agreement and the same shall be binding on the parties and the persons claiming under them.
(6) The Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee shall authenticate the settlement agreement and furnish a copy thereof to each of the parties. The record of the entire proceedings shall be kept by the Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee.
(7) The settlement agreement signed by the parties and the Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee shall be a conclusive proof of settlement.”
It is a statutory mandate in these words: “There shall be a Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee in each society …” In drafting the Model 2014 this important provision has been completely avoided, which could help reduce the disputes and prevent the housing society’s internal atmosphere undergoing stress when people are at war with themselves. And despite a clear mandate of the legislature, the Commissioner for Cooperation consciously chose to give a miss: consciously because there is a set of another Model bye-laws as aforesaid which included full text of Section 89AB as Bye Law No 173.Are there any merits in adopting such bye-laws being mischievously passed on as a mandatory requirement of every housing society.
All Housing societies are sincerely advised to incorporate Section 89AB by amending their registered bye laws at the earliest. You are bound to face difficulty since the concerned Deputy Registrar will not register anything less that the whole of the Model 2014, you can as well pass a general body meeting resolution to follow Provisions of Section 89AB in entirety. No authority can come in your way in doing so. In that case exclude from the text of the resolution, following sentence of sub-section (1) of Section 89AB namely “The committee of a society shall make a report of such constitution of Grievances Settlement and Redressal Committee to the Registrar.” It will be of no help except an avoidable interference.