Maha CHS: Twin Tales of Associate Membership

By I C Naik

On May 31, 2018 we went through examples of Hazards of Associate Membership in Maharashtra, contemplating a need to examine the issues concerning the Associate member owning the flat jointly with the main member.

In a series of write-ups on flaws in Model 2014 Bye-Laws, we encountered inter alia how the Commissioner for Cooperation and Registrar of Cooperative Societies Maharashtra, at Pune (the CC & RC ) has may be subconsciously, destabilized the legislative intent on Associate membership, by redefining it in the Model Bye-Laws 2014 released on November 1, 2013. Little did he realize that this was poised to creating quite tough situations for managements of older housing societies. The front officers of the department, i.e. Dy. Registrar appears to be bent upon adding fuel to fire unknowingly or otherwise, as revealed by the two tales discussed in this post.

Some time back we had talked about quite a peculiar case in which the Andheri -Mumbai based Cooperative Premises Society’s Secretary was dismissed because he was an Associate member not jointly owning any unit in the society. The Officer passing this order was no less than the Deputy Registrar (K – East)- Mr J D Patil who has noe shifted to P Ward Kandivali East.

Very recently I was confronted with one issue about the Associate member elected as the Hon. Secretary after new Model Bye-Laws 2014 were adopted by the society. It was referred to me through this site by a former treasurer of the Best Employees housing society in Goregaon (East) -Mumbai. For over a year he and his colleagues on the immediate past Management Committee, are engaged in a protracted legal battle seeking the Hon. Secretary’s dismissal from the Committee itself. They had complained about it more than a year ago, to the Dy. Registrar Mr J D Patil – P Ward Kandivali East. They were after the Hon. Secretary because he was not a Joint owner of the flat which was inherited by his mother upon death of her Husband. His applications for Associate Membership provides a documentary evidence thereof.

 By the time the 8th hearing was to commence when they came to hear about the Andheri Premises Society dismissal order of Mr J D Patil; they were quite delighted in the hope to get a similar order very soon. Mr Patil was sitting on their complaint despite a volley of reminders from the higher ups viz:- the Commissioner’s office in Pune, Joint Registrar at Malhotra House, and Mantralaya (CM’s Secretariat), to Mr Patil to attend to the complaint expeditiously. J D Patil did not yield to these reminders. One day he passed a dismissal order not of the Hon. Secretary but of the Complaint for his dismissal. The complainants were shocked as the dismissal in Premises Society was based on the 2014 Model Bye-Laws of Cooperative Housing Society and not even that of the Premises Society. In this case the complainants were seeking dismissal based on their own society’s registered Bye-Laws which was quite a stronger case.

Even then, they failed to get a correct order issued by the very same D R Mr. Patil. What a pitty!!! Mr. J D Patil chose not to dismiss the Hon. Secretary contrary to what he himself did in Andheri Premises Society based on unregistered Model Bye-Laws of another class of cooperative society!!! The intention behind delaying the order in the Best Employees society’s complaint is not too difficult to guess. This bears out from the fact that after sitting on issue over an year, the complainants were directed to go to Cooperative Court as the Election disputes are within the jurisdiction of Cooperative Court under the Election Rules. It is a matter of public knowledge, that the Election Rules provide maximum of two months’ time to file a dispute application from the date of election.

As the order was well passed the time limit, distressed Complainants helplessly reverted to follow up letters once again with the above mentioned higher authorities, only to be told that the Dy. Registrar can only decide the issue. The complaints were shocked to realize that the higher-ups in cooperative Societies do not consider them responsible to give correct directions / advice to their subordinate officers on intricate matters of grave doubts. Does it also imply that they have no powers to deal with flawed orders? I could faintly guessed the real reason for the complainants seemed to be ; the unmindful spending of the substantial amounts from the funds of the society in a relatively short period. An honest approach in the interest of 200+ members miserably failed by just one officer of the Department, they were extremely anguished which made me feel sorry about them. Dy Registrar seems to enjoy very high level of immunity against the faulty orders harmful to the cooperative movement.

Reading the story of Andheri Premises Society, one another member who was Associate since 1995, wrote to seeking guidance to problem he faced as an Associate member. This CHS had adopted Model bye-law 2014 in AGM held on 25/09/2016 and the Dy.Registrar, Co-op.Society, ‘P’ Ward, Kandivali (East) have registered them on 24/07/2017. Yes, the same D R Mr. J D Patil. In the words of this member “the management committee of our society had cancelled my associated membership vide their letter dated 04/10/2017. Thereafter, I approach to Election Office, Pune who have forwarded my letter alongwith all enclosures and directed the Dy.Registrar, ‘P’ Ward for initiating action as the issue lies with him vide their letter dated 05/03/2018. As there was no action from Dy.Registrar, ‘P’ Ward. I wrote again letter to Dy.Registrar in the month of May, 2018. “The aggrieved associate member is still awaiting to hear from the Dy Registrar.

The M C S Act 1960 defines Associate member as one whose name appears in the share Certificate after the name of the member who must be the owner of the flat: Se 2(19).It is the legislative decision to allow a person of choice of the member of housing society to appoint any person who can attend General Body Meetings in his / her absence. This person in law is an Associate member (admitted after proper procedure specified under laws has been adopted). In fact Section 24(2) empowers societies to specify in their Bye-Laws any rights of members which can be enjoyed by the Associate Members. This facility is hardly used by any housing society as the Model Bye-Laws are thrust upon by the Maha-Cooperative Regime with no liberty to modify them.

The CC & RC has stumbled upon a very clear legislative intent and in that passively forced all housing societies adopting 2014 Model Bye-Laws to restrict the Associate membership to those persons whose names appear in the title deeds of the flats as joint holders. No consideration was given to a situation that may arise if existing housing society were to adopt 2014 Model. This is what this housing society is now facing. The Hon. Secretary of this housing society went ahead without thinking if he had the power, dismissed a member who was admitted to Associate membership more than 2 decades ago in 1995. The Committee has the power to admit a member and dismissal is strictly governed by registered bye-laws.

The height of indifference to housing society problems in the higher echelons in the cooperatives regime of the State of Maharashtra appears so pathetic that, they seem to think that they owe no responsibility to guide the front line officers being the face of the regime at the Ward level. Letter of the Hon. Secretary is prima-fascia inoperative as persons are inducted as members in the society under collective decision of the Committee and the Hon. Secretary’s power is no more than to complete formalities administratively. The concerned member continues to be an Associate member until he is dismissed under due process of law. In both the tales and the same issue of Associate Membership in housing society was involved but the members were seeking two opposite orders from the one and the same Dr Mr J D Patil. No wonder he is utterly confused… The CC & RC who has created this situation owes responsibility to reach out to rescue the confused DR J D Patil.

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