By I C Naik
It has been reported in a Gujarati Daily recently that four members of the managing committee of Sangam CHS in Bhayandar (Western District of Mumbai) have been arrested on the charge of tempering with the dates of purchase of the Stamp Papers in 2011 which were used for executing the M20 Bond in the year 2008 with notary’s authentication thereon.
One resident of this CHS ( Mr Daga 57) became suspicious of purchase of stamp papers worth Rs 27,000 in March 2011 by the Committee. Using RTI he established that Stamp Papers purchased in 2011 were used for executing M2 0 Bond due in the year 2008. Dates were tempered to present them as of August 2008. These bonds were notarized also. The Office bearers Chairman/Secretary and two other members are in lock up.
Readers would recall that fifteen years back in 2000 the Maharashtra Government introduced mandatory requirement for members of the managing committee of cooperative societies. In CHS this requirement was felt to be disserving the cause. Essentially the M20 Bond was a communication of a statutory obligation of members in the management of the society. Per se the M 20 Bond did not cast any additional obligation. After abolishing the Bond requirement in 2012 the obligations of members of the managing committee did not change.
There were reports that many housing societies were ignoring the M20 Bond requirements with impunity.. What was the need for the Committee of this CHS will come out as the proceedings go on. If the charges are proved, it definitely means the concerned members and office bearers remained in the management of the CHS though legally they have ceased to be the members of the Committee after expiry of 15 days from their assuming office. Whether in doing this what was the motive of the alleged culprits. What exactly was the pecuniary benefits they received as members of the Committee? These are questions whether the M20 Bond was necessary or not.
Even now despite the committee members not agreeing by signing a bond that they will be liable for loss to CHS on account of their acts/omissions, they can still be charged in genuine cases. So how much significance to this Bond be assigned to assess seriousness of the crime. The Idea of the Bond is safeguarding of interest of the society against negligence of the managing committee which is not compromised even in the absence of the Bond. Exemption to CHS management from executing Bond in 2012 was considered advisable because it discouraged members of CHS to take responsibility of managing the CHS.
Members of the society may be wondering what happens to actions taken by the Committee which had four members who had ceased to be so for not signing the M20 Bond. The MCS Act 1960 has an interesting provision U/S 77 – Acts of societies etc., not to be invalidated by certain defects
“(1) No act of a society or a committee or any officer, done in good faith in pursuance of the business of the society shall be deemed to be invalid by reason only of some defect subsequently discovered in the organization of the society, or in the constitution of the committee, or in the appointment or election of an officer, or on the ground that such officer was disqualified for his office.
(2) No Act done in good faith by any person appointed under this Act, the rules and the bye-laws shall be invalid merely by reason of the fact that his appointment has been cancelled by or in consequence of any order subsequently passed under this Act, Rules and the Bye-laws.
(3) The Registrar shall decide whether any act was done in good faith in pursuance of the business of the society; and his decision thereon shall be final.
Its Sub-Section 3 is important and this case of tempering with Stamp Paper dates could better be handled under this Sub-Section rather than trying to punish the members for cheating. This should serve the cause of the society much better than trying to punish for an insignificant default. It is a guilty mind undoubtedly but its ultimate consequences should govern the process of Law.