Short notes on the consumer protection Act, 1983.

Associate membership in societies
by Vinod Sampat
Posted on 04 April 2001

The Association has been given to understand that new set of Bye-Laws have been finalized by the Divisional Joint Registrar of C0-operative Society on Friday the 30th March 2001 . A uniform set of Bye-Laws for open plot societies , flat owners societies as well as Premises Societies will be applicable to Housing Societies all over Maharashtra .
Unfortunately, the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act had not recognized the rights of joint members . It is submitted with respect that on many occasions flats are purchased jointly by the co-owners . Even the Transfer of Property Act recognize the rights of joint purchasers . This defect in Co-operative Laws will be rectified now for the first time by recognizing the concept of Joint Membership . Another salient feature of the proposed Bye-Laws is with regards to the expenses on repairs and maintenance that the Societies have to spend money towards major repairs . Until now the limit for incurring expenses on repairs and maintenance without sanction of General Body was Rs.25,000/-. There was no difference with regards to number of members, in the building . Now an attempt has been made that if the society has more members ,then the society can incur expenses upto Rs. 1,00,000/- for repairs and maintenance without obtaining permission of General Body Meeting . It was also observed that the Societies were facing lot of difficulties in recovering the amounts from the defaulters . A provision has been made whereby Society can disconnect water supply of the members who has been in default for more than one year . This provision will gave abnormal powers to the office bearers of the Society . Even the Maharashtra Flats Act recognize the concept that essential services cannot be discontinued without due process of law. However , in the opinion of the Association , this power if given to the office bearers of the society, is likely to be abused by them for their personal disputes with defaulting members . Some amount of check through the medium of Housing Federation is proposed in the bye-laws but the same cannot supercede the provisions of Maharashtra Ownership flats Act. This will lead to multiplicity of litigation. The Housing Societies were supposed to issue pass book to the members . Now the housing societies will not have to issue the pass book to its members. These things have been in existence for more than 40 years but hardly any society is complying with all the provisions of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act. The law as it stands today states that person handling cash have to give financial security to the Society which does not serve any material purpose.
The definition of family will now include married daughters . Having regard to the life of the building , Structural audit will have to be done once in 3 years of 5 years . The earthquake in Gujarat has opened the eyes of many people and henceforth co-operative societies will have to take out insurance for earth quake. It was observed that many times even if the flat was locked, non-occupancy charges were being levied . An attempt has been made to clarify that non-occupancy charges should not be levied , if the flat is locked . It is the desire of Co-operative Department that negligible amount should be collected at the time of sub-letting of premises. It is also clarified that non-occupancy charge should not be levied if the flat is occupied by the purchaser . One peculiar situation that was arising in co-operative societies was that on the death of the member, the nominees were at times not applying for membership of the Societies . Now a provision has been made whereby nominee has to apply for membership within 6 months from the date of the member.
Having regard to the recent building crashes, a specific provision has been made that if a member changes the usage of the premises and carries out unauthorized construction without permission of the society as well as of the competent authority, then he can be expelled . Old Bye-laws stipulated that internal leakage as well as external leakage of the premises was the responsibility of society . However , in the new Bye-Laws it is specifically mentioned that internal leakage will be the responsibility of the member. It was observed that office bearers of the society were not acknowledging the letters written to the society . Now it has been specifically provided in the new bye-laws that every application made to the society should be acknowledged by the society.

It was observed that members of the society were confused as to whom to approach for different types of grievances . In some matters Bombay Municipal Co-operation has the jurisdiction , in some matters Police Authorities have the jurisdiction , in some matters Co-operative Court has the jurisdiction and in some matters the Registrar of Co-operative Societies has the jurisdiction . An attempt has been made to clarify who have the jurisdiction for different types of disputes. This will result in clarity as well as saving of the time of members of the society . Various definitions have been incorporated as per the provisions of MOFA Act.
The Association requests the Co-operative Minster as well as Commissioner for Co-operation not to grant absolute power to office bearers of the society to disconnect the water supply of the members of the society as the said provision is not in the overall interest of the Co-operative Movement.
If a member wants to sublet the premises and society is not giving permission , then in such circumstances the Registrar as per the new bye-laws will have the power to issue permission to sublet the premises . There are about 60,000 societies in Maharashtra and the new set of bye-laws are likely to be approved by the Commissioner of Societies in April ,2001. The new set of Bye-Laws will be useful to the Co-operative Societies . Unfortunately , some items deserve to be criticized like discontinuing of essential services on account of non-payment of dues . This amounts to giving abnormal powers to the office bearers of the societies . The definition of flat includes garage , and it is unfair to expect the members owning garage to pay all the charges as of a residential flat . The legal position in the opinion of the Association is that if a member has got one flat and one garage then he will have to pay the charges to the society not only for the flat but also for the garage which certainly will not be the intention of the legislature as for garage hardly any expenditure has to be incurred by the Society.
A circular has been issued by the Co-operative Department dated 18th December , 1994 , that Agreements of Resale of Flat should be compulsorily registered . However , Section 41 of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act exempts compulsory registration of Flats . This creates controversy . Clarification should be issued by the Co-operative Department . As of date there is no provision in the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act,1960, Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Rules , 1961 , or in the Bye-Laws of the Society whereby Co-operative society can ask for a copy of the Agreement . The Association has also written to the Co-operative Minister, Principal Secretary – Co-operation as well as Commissioner for Co-operation to consider the above said points and also ask the views of estate agents, flat purchasers as well as builders before finalizing the Model Bye Laws. Copies of such Bye-Laws are likely to be approved by the Commissioner of Societies in April ,2001 and Co-operative Societies may adopt the same in the Annual General Body Meeting or in a Special General Body Meeting . The Proposal to amend/ adopt the new Bye-Laws has to be approved by at least 2/3rd majority out of the total members present in the said meeting . Legally speaking , Societies may continue functioning with the old bye-laws or adopt the new bye-laws once they are approved by the Commissioner.





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