Co-operative housing societies follow the model bye-laws, which are comprehensive and prescribe a number of rules and procedures for elections. In this article, we will simplify and decode the procedure for Election in Housing Societies, covering the important facets that truly matter.
Election Due Date
Within the first three months of registration of the society, the Chief Promoter is required to call the First General Body Meeting of the society, Election being one of the topmost priorities of the meeting along with the constitution of the Provisional Committee until regular elections are held under bye-laws of the Society. Regular elections are supposed to be held once every five years as per the Bye-Laws.
All members: According to a recent amendment, any eligible or associate member is to be granted the right to vote as soon as he/she is admitted as a member of the society.
On house, one vote: Each unit of a housing society has a vote. For example, if you own multiple flats/houses in a society, each of them is liable to get a vote. Even those who default payments are allowed to vote.
Who is not eligible for candidature?
According to the Model Bye-Laws, a critical reason for a member to not be able to contest an election is If he defaults the payment of dues to the society, within three months from the date of service of notice in writing.
An Associate Member (a person with joint ownership whose name does not stand first in the Share Certificate) for whom the Original Member has not issued a No-Objection Certificate cannot contest the Election.
Proposers (someone who nominates a candidate) and seconders (someone who supports the nomination) have no such restrictions as they are allowed to nominate and support any number of candidatures irrespective of defaulted payments or arrears.
How many members are required in a Managing Committee?
Under Bye-Law 113, the strength of the Managing Committee could be made up of 11, 13, 15, 17 or 19 members, with respect to the number of total members in the society. The break-up is as follows:
|Number of members in a Society||General||Reserved (Women SC/ST OBC VJ/NT/SBC)||Total||Quorum for Meeting (simple majority of the existing Committee Members)|
|101 to 200||8||5||13||7|
|201 to 300||10||5||15||8|
|301 to 500||12||5||17||9|
|501 and above||14||5||19||10|
Forming a Managing Committee
Model Bye-Laws from 114 to 116 have put forth certain laws that help you in forming a strong and reliable Managing Committee.
Members of the Committee are to be elected every five years (before the expiry of the five-year term). An E-2 form to be submitted to the to the District Co-operative Election Officer or Taluka or Ward Co-operative Election Officer six months prior to the expiry of the Committee period of the society in case if the society has over 200 members. If they do not notify the State Election Authority and continue to hold office, it is a violation of the law resulting in action from the Registrar.
In order to oversee the objectives, special requirements or functions of the Society, two Expert Directors and/or two Functional Directors may be co-opted. But they will have no right to vote and do not count as members of the Managing Committee.
No office bearer is allowed to have any financial, transactional or vested interests with regards to the society, unless the financial transactions involve giving residential accommodation to the paid member of the society.
Societies with less than 200 members conducting independent elections are liable for a Rs 25,000 fine if they fail to produce accounts, documents, or paperwork to the government or the members of the society.
Who is not eligible for joining the Managing Committee and is disqualified from it?
Members with questionable moral behaviour, defaulted payments within three months of written notice, Associate Member without NOC from original member are not eligible. Anyone who sublets or rents their house without notifying the society in advance is also not eligible.
Anyone who fails to furnish valid bookkeeping/expenditure records with respect to the funds provided by the society is not eligible. Anyone who neglects their assigned duties and is deemed to be in breach of trust is not eligible to be part of the committee.
Over and above that, if a member has failed to attend any three consecutive monthly meetings of the Committee, without leave of absence, he is disqualified from the Committee.
Retired members who have not been disqualified are eligible for election.
Election Procedures and Rules in Housing Societies
At least three months prior to the Election date, the initial procedures must be declared to the voters by the Managing Committee ( or the Provisional Managing Committee in case if the first Election is to be conducted).
A Returning Officer should be appointed to carry out the Voting Procedures and ensure adherence of the rules. A Returning Officer should be someone who is not contesting the Election in any capacity. Nor should he be proposing or seconding a candidate. In other words, he should be an absolutely unbiased and trusted individual. Usually, someone takes up this position voluntarily. Otherwise, members jointly entrust the responsibilities on a member they deem fit for the duties. In many cases, a financial compensation is made to the Returning Officer for his professional services.
The Conduct of Election should involve the following steps that make the entire procedure methodical and hassle-free. Each process should be published on the Notice Board of the society within ten days of displaying the final list of the voters.
|1||Date of declaration of election programme||Date to be announced at the time of declaration of programme.|
|2||Last date for making nominations||5 days from the date of declaration of election programme.|
|4||The date of publication of list of nominations received||As and when received till the last date fixed for making nominations.|
|4||Date of scrutiny of nominations.||Next day of the last date for making nominations|
|5||Date of publication of list of valid nominations after scrutiny.||Next day after the date of completion of scrutiny.|
|6||Date by which candidature may be withdrawn.||Within 15 days from the date of publication of list of valid nominations after scrutiny|
|7||Date of publication of the final list of contesting candidates and allotment of election symbols.||The day after the last day of fixed for withdrawal of candidature.|
|8||Date and time during which and the place/ places at which the poll shall be taken if necessary.||Not earlier than 7 days but not later than 15 days from the date of publication of the final list of contesting candidate (time and place to be fixed by the Returning Officer).|
|9||Date, time and place for counting of votes.||Not later than the third day from the date of which the poll shall be taken (Time and place to be fixed by the Returning Officer).|
|10||Date of declaration of results of voting.||Immediately after the counting of votes.|
If the paid up share capital of the said society is more than Rs. 10, 000, the voting is conducted by secret ballot.
At the time of the voting, each member is shown an empty ballot box before they cast their vote. The Ballot Paper usually has the seal of the society and the counterfoil the initials of the Returning Officer. The Ballot Box is sealed in front of the voters and all the documents/votes relevant to the Election are stored safely by the Secretary who is required to preserve them for three months and then destroy them afterwards. This is done in case of disputes.
After the results, the current committee hands over the charge to the newly elected committee.
In summary, timely execution of required procedures is quite essential to carry out an Election successfully. At each step of the way, the members need clarity and transparency from the elected members . At the same time, members need to be proactively involved in the election procedures as it is commonly observed in many housing societies that the same individuals are selected as office bearers in every term. This may lead to lethargy, inefficiency, or malfeasance in many cases.