By I C Naik
Season of AGMs in CHS (Annual General Meetings) in Mumbai just got over. September 30th has been the inflexible deadline. Most common to every AGM is, 14 clear days’
Notice the list of business and list of documents to be laid thereat. Here is an account of a typical AGM held in the last week of the last month on the last Sun day, a day just two days before the deadline. The Agenda as listed in the Notice calling the meeting is produced below:
- To read the minutes of the last AGM and to note the action taken thereon.
- To receive from the committee, the report on the proceeding co-operative year’s working, together with the statements of accounts in form ‘N’ showing the income and expenditure during the preceding co-operative year and the balance sheet as at the close of the year along with the audit rectification report.
iii. To appoint auditors and to fix his remuneration,
- To take note of transfers of shares / flats in respect of certain members
- To approve Budget for the current financial year.
- To consider any other matter, as may be permitted by the Chair.
At an appointed time the Chairman rose and inquired if quorum was present.
As per the Honorary Secretary the head count was 19 i.e. one short, “but we can start” she said with full confidence. “At least one more should be joining any time. I think we should not waste half an hour of 19 members, it is 9 and half member hours, more than one whole meeting time.” The Chairman stepped in and announced “I have a solution. I have a casting vote. I hereby use that and order the meeting to go on with the fist business forth with.”
While the Secretary was struggling putting the mike on, one loud voice from a corner said “Let it be taken as read” The Secretary clarified; “the minutes of the last AGM and actions taken there on.” The Chairman signaled his acceptance to the idea. (I thought a high light of actions taken would have warmed up the meeting, but…).
The Hon. Treasurer rose on his feet. Everyone was staring at him in utter surprise. The Chairman hurriedly grabbed the mike and apologetically clarified “Sorry folks, that’s a new Treasurer I designated him two days back to fill up a casual vacancy using my emergency power. The next business belongs to him, Please proceed on Mr…..” The treasurer then inquired if any member has not received the documents listed under this agenda Item and immediately added, as every member has received, we take the 1st business namely “To receive etc.,…etc…” as transacted satisfactorily “ and “may we proceed on, if the Chair permits?”
One member got up and inquired with the Chairman if Adoption of Accounts referred to in Section 75 (4) of the cooperative societies inserted by the Amendment Act 2013 was also taken as done. The Chairman clarified “The Agenda item is drafted exactly as per the registered bye-laws of our C H S which are the same as Model bye-laws approved by the Commissioner for Cooperation on 5-10-1984. Section 75 requires the AGM to transact businesses as laid down under the registered bye-laws of the concerned CHS. Infact the latest Model of bye-laws approved by the Commissioner on 2-9-2014 also does not specify the business of adoption of accounts of CHS in the AGM. “There was a stunning silence in disbelief. (I dared not say adoption was a business specified under MCS Act, which is superior to bye-laws).
Upon further enquiry by the treasurer one member rose on his feet and sought the Chairman’s clarification about the audit rectification report mentioned in agenda item (ii). “ I did not receive it sir. “The Chairman quickly stood up and profusely thanked the member for pointing it out. He added” I appreciate it very much sir. First of all you are well aware of the protocol, I must say. Every speaker in members’ meeting must always address to the Chairman. I may ask the Honorary Secretary or any member to offer clarification which should also be addressed to the Chairman. That inculcates the discipline. We must appreciate how minutely the honourable member has gone through the meeting Papers. Very well done” and he quietly sat down.
Apparently, the Secretary realized that the Chairman has evaded the issue cleverly. She clarified “This document was not erroneously left out. No such document was prepared as customarily the audit memorandum was never circulated in any of the past AGMs; so no need to of rectification report, this time as well.” (There must be a list of serious lapses of law as also of bye-laws in audit memorandum I could guess, but felt diffident to pierce through this Fort of illiteracy and kept quiet).
Then the Chairman called for the next business. The Honorary Secretary informed the Chairman that the existing Auditor has given his consent in writing to continue for one more year and we have to reappoint him in this meeting. His remuneration of Rs 100 per member is fixed under the MCR 1961 so this meeting has just to pass a customary resolution for his reappointment. The Chairman asked the Honorary Secretary to proceed on.
The Honorary Secretary read out names of those members who had transferred their flats during the year indicating names of corresponding transferees, who were already admitted to the membership by the Management Committee. One member asked “why not also report the transfer price so that our members come to know the going value of their flats.” The Secretary objected to disclosing the sale price of any flat on the ground of privacy. The Chairman also wondered about the benefits to the Society of sharing information of flat prices. Several members expressed views on both the sides. The matter was not reaching conclusion despite a fierce debate.
The Honorary Secretary asked for names of the proposer and of seconding member. The Chairman added that “in the resolution add that such disclosure would not be made if it was not supported by the legal opinion of at least two well-known advocates. Also make sure that no member drags the Society to Court for breach of his privacy. We always do everything perfect and legal as also safe.” [ it was neither here nor there, but members were looking happy]
Then the Treasurer asked if there was any objection to the budget? One member asked as to why the maintenance was not being reduced though Income and Expenditure Account in balance sheet carries over a huge surplus of income to next year? The chairman clarified that the Committee has kept some surplus in reserve to meet any unforeseen contingency. For instance, there were huge losses this year, as we installed Solar Panels and if we did not have enough money in the current repair fund we would have lost the benefit of solar subsidy permanently as it was the last year for subsidy. Hope honorable members will appreciate our foresight. We will eventually restore the Repair Fund from saving on power costs. This was also a reason not to cut down maintenance rate ”(Significant part of Repair fund was transferred to Income and expenditure account as a backup to installing Solar Power Panels instigating members to demand reduction in maintenance rate).
The meeting ended abruptly without moving a customary vote of thanks to the Chair.