By I C Naik
Hardly known provisions of Section 79A of the M C S Act 1960, virtually vest the power of the State legislature to the bureaucracy to legislate on housing societies. If the State Government (the bureaucracy) is satisfied that
- It is in the public interest or
- to secure the proper management of the business of the society generally, or
- for preventing the affairs of the society being conducted in a manner detrimental to the interests of the members of the society,
It may issue directions to the societies (called 97A directions). The societies receiving 97A directions are bound to comply fully. In case of failure the responsible member of the Committee is liable to be disqualified for the next six years.
“The Cooperative Housing Societies Manual (called Housing Manual) was released as the 97A directions, on 15th October 2011 under cover of the Government letter Ref: SAGRUYO-2011/PRA.KRA. 360/14-SA. This Housing Manual is applicable to all housing societies registered in the State of Maharashtra. Citing the need of Housing Manual the aforesaid letter acknowledges “receipt of large scale complaints regarding the Housing Societies” which needed to help resolve the members’ complaints at the society level itself.
Housing Manual has 11 Chapters some of which are further divided in to 42 sub-chapters. Though purpose of Housing Manual is admirable how many housing societies have heard about the same is any body’s guess. The writer happened to see Housing Manual in actual use in one of the Wards in Mumbai in the year 2016. One of the 1st Class Executives was referring to it in search of an answer to one of my critical questions : more about the question/answer later. Almost all cooperators are un-aware that Housing Manual is freely accessible on the following URL . It is hardly being accessed bears out of hundreds of simple questions repeatedly submitted by cooperators to the writer during the last 5 years through ww.indiancooperative.com
Housing Manual has an extensive introduction in Chapter 1 having three sub-chapters: (i) background, (ii) purposes and (iii) scope. It cites a very paradoxical rationale for rise of the complaints, namely : Even though rules/procedure for management of facilities are mentioned through Co-operative Housing Societies Act, Rules and bye laws based on them it came to notice generally that the people who are unknown to each other starts disputing by taking support of these rules. In sharp contrast to this reality, look at what the Hon. Supreme Court of India observed a few years ago.
At Para 10 of its order in landmark judgment in Zoroastrian Co-Operative Housing Society Limited Rd-Sc 253 (15 April 2005) the Apex Court observes: ”In the suggestions for the promotion of a housing society the first essential is said to be that there should be a bond of common habits and common usage among the members which should strengthen their neighborly feelings, their loyal adherence to the will of the society expressed by the committee’s orders and their unselfish and harmonious working together. Why the people are unknown to each other: has any thought been given to this ? Expect serious analysis of Real Estate role in this aspect.
“The aim of this Housing Manual is to give authorized information in easy language.” The background 1.1 candidly accepts :“ It has become difficult day by day to make the idea in reality of constructing houses with own expenses by coming together and purchasing land.” Therefore what existed as the main purpose of housing society (Sec 2 (16) of the M C S Act 1960) till 1986 namely “the main purpose of the co-operative housing societies to make available facilities of residence by constructing houses for the members” has taken a backseat and now “the only purpose remained in reality is of providing basic amenities, management etc.” as added by a legislative enactment to Clause 2(16) vide Mah. 20.1986.
Diluting the mandatory nature of Housing Manual its drafters humbly state that “if such type of Co-operative Housing Societies Manual is there the office bearer of the society can get practical instructions and also guidance for doing day to day working”[Page 6]. [For more on Housing Manual await Part 2 and more]