"Protect legitimate interests of Mumbai flat owners"

Cooperative housing society activists step up campaign for M-20 bonds

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | December 16, 2011



Members of 85 cooperative societies across Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai have sent a petition to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and cooperatives minister Harshvardhan Patil to protect legitimate interests of flat owners by tightening the screws on MC members of cooperative housing societies and builders who work in an unholy nexus during redevelopment. The signatories also registered protests against cooperatives minister Harshvardhan Patil’s speeches on various public forums to cancel the need for managing committees to sign M-20 indemnity bonds.

Maharashtra state legislature requires managing committee members of all cooperative societies  to mandatorily file M-20 indemnity bonds. In practice,70-80 percent MC members do not file bonds and within weeks of assuming office start looking past rules to favour some and suppress others who don’t agree with them, misinforming and manipulating general body meetings and writing minutes to suit personal interests. They extol doing voluntary service and feel they cannot be held accountable by society members.

For  approximately 80,000 cooperative housing societies in Mumbai (one-third population) there are only six deputy registrars who are heavily short staffed which means on an average there are 10,000-15,000 societies under each deputy registrar.In hundreds of cases where people have lodged complaints and no action has been taken. In such a scenario aggrieved who go to the DR’s office are not even given a patient hearing.

Inspite of clear-cut laws, actions are not implemented immediately. Cooperative experts say that the only tool people have against corrupt managing committees is the M-20 bonds and if that is done away with people will have no recourse to penal action. Even though byelaws make them accountable, action on violations of byelaws by deputy registrar is slow and in effective. There is no suo moto action for not filing M-20 bonds.

Though in writ petition 1671/2009 Bombay High Court clearly states that if MC has not signed M-20 bonds and calls for elections such elections are null and void the judgment does not  mention status of decisions taken during that period.

During the last eight months, cooperative society activist and expert JB Patel along with legal expert Vinod Sampat, senior counsel,Cooperative Housing Redevelopment, Dilip Shah, RTI activists GR Vora, Krishnaraj Rao, Mohammad Afzal, Sulaiman Bhimani  and others has been working on lawful remedies for harassed members of numerous uncooperative housing societies through RTI Union fighting for land & building issues in Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The fact that 600 housing societies have joined the union is testimony to its growing popularity.

Himself a coop society victim ,Patel turned to activism with the objective of educating people on both sides.To MC on their lawful duties towards their society and to members for imparting knowledge  on their rights and  duties as members. “According to my experience most problems in housing societies arise due to ego issues and to frictions. If both these objectives are realized  we will be very helpful to Deputy Registrar and Ministry of Cooperatives by  reducing  litigation and friction amongst members” says Patel.

Fighting for cooperative housing issues the activists and legal experts are taking the matter further with RBI and Cooperatives Ministry. “We are taking up the issue with RBI to instruct all  banks where societies are operating their accounts to ask for copies of M-20 bonds otherwise the operation should be declared illegal. Secondly, Auditors must make it mandatory to include M-20 Bonds in their annual reports and put a remark accordingly and thirdly, member’s complaints against not filing of M-20 bonds must be addressed immediately” adds Patel.

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