A housing society functions under a framework of meetings, goals, tasks and agendas, much like a corporate office. Societies hold general body meetings (including special and annual general body meetings) for various reasons, in order to plan the administrative affairs of the society, to keep the members apprised of the society’s financial balance sheets, to conduct and hold the society elections, to review defaulted dues by members, and to discuss any relevant or imposing matters that society faces in the course of its being.
As the name suggests, a Special General Body Meeting is called for undertaking a particular agenda or topic. Some reasons for calling special general body meetings are election awareness, redevelopment or reparation plans, important communication from government authorities, grave misconduct issues, among others. At the SGM, any business, other than the one mentioned as the agenda of the meeting is NOT discussed.
Why should you attend a Special General Body Meeting?
A circular on the notice board may seem unappealing or unnecessary for those of us who have busy lives and packed schedules. But special general body meetings are held to address critical issues that need your immediate attention and participation. Any matter that you consider worth your time may be on the agenda; for example, societies may need to carry out urgent repairs within the premises, upgrade their CCTV equipment after a suspicious incident, install new amenities for the betterment of the members, hold emergency replacements of office bearers, raise funds for emergencies not payable by the sinking fund. You’d want to stay up-to-date with such developments and not be at a loss when such changes may ultimately affect you directly, or indirectly. It is recommended that you regularly check your notice board for updates and decide your involvement in the agenda.
Guidelines for calling a Special General Body Meeting
If you think that a circular on your society’s notice board with a date, time and agenda is enough to conduct an SGM, you’d be wrong. There are mandatory steps that involve precise communication on behalf of the Managing Committee. Let’s delve a little deeper.
Who can you call a Special General Body Meeting? What is the timeframe?
SGM can be called at any time at the behest of the Chairman or by the decision of the majority of the Committee, within one month of the date of the official request in writing signed by at least 1/5th of the Members of the Society. Within seven days of receipt, the Secretary of the Society should fix the date, time and place for the Special General Body Meeting. 5 day’s notice of the meeting shall be given to all the members of the Society. The notice period may be even shorter in case of dire emergencies. However, in any case, the agenda should be clearly mentioned in the circular to the members.
What is the quorum (minimum number of members required) for a Special General Body Meeting?
Model bye-laws state that the quorum is 2/3rd of the total number of members of the Society or 20, whichever is less.
Who conducts the SGM?
The Chairman is in charge of the proceedings, however, in his absence, the members are free to elect one person from among themselves. Every member is allowed one vote (in case the agenda requires voting).
Can a Special General Body Meeting be adjourned, reconvened or postponed?
In case the required quorum is not present within half an hour of the specified time, the meeting can be rearranged at a later hour on the same day. It can be postponed to a later date as well, but cannot be called again before 7 days of the original date and must be called within 30 days of the original date. The same timeframe applies if the quorum is present and all goes well but the members are unable to conclude the meeting or arrive at a decision on that specific day.
What if the Special General Body Meeting does not take place in spite of notice?
If the person responsible for calling the SGM fails to conduct the meeting, the Registrar has the right to disqualify or penalise him. The Registrar then holds the authority to appoint a person to duly carry out the meeting. The Registrar’s intervention is mandated in the law and is called for when the agenda is highly critical or mandatory. In the case of regular housing societies, such situations rarely arise where legal intervention or action may be necessary.
Who keeps a record of what happens at a Special General Body Meeting?
Every General Body Meeting (including SGM) has to be recorded. The Managing Committee (specifically the Secretary or any other person appointed to draft minutes) is responsible for finalising the draft minutes within 3 months and circulate the draft minutes amongst all the members of the society within 15 days of the meeting. Upon receiving the minutes draft, the members have 15 days to respond with observations if they have any. If not, at a subsequent meeting, the Committee prepares the final minutes and records them in the minutes book.
How do Special General Body Meetings help your society to function better?
In collaborative endeavours such as a housing society, all members are considered valuable and treated as indispensable. Keeping members apprised of the important updates, decisions and developments regarding the workings of the society is the primary duty of a managing committee. In fact, a housing society is the finest example of a democratic process that is truly for the people, by the people and of the people.
This undertaking does not serve its highest purpose if the members are disinterested or uninvolved in its practices. SGMs are essential events that are held only when an issue requires complete and undivided attention from the residents as well as the managing committee. To help societies thrive, to promulgate the ideals of transparency and accountability and to quickly and intensely resolve impending dangers, special general body meetings are not only necessary but also highly effective. While as model residents, you should be willing to participate and get involved in SGMs, as part of an effective managing committee you should be prompt to suggest SGMs in order to resolve any issues that take precedence and need urgently addressed.