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New law spells trouble for housing societies in Gurgaon
Lalit Mohan, TNN Jun 23, 2012, 12.17AM IST
Registration and Regulation of Societies Act|
Chandigarh’s law makers
GURGAON: Over 4,500 registered societies in Gurgaon and thousands more across the state face an existential quandary on account of the state's new Registration and Regulation of Societies Act. The new 92-clause law, which replaces the 1860 statute with its state-specific amendments, appears to be the product of a painstaking exercise in obfuscation. Organisations that fall under its purview will be hard put to understand and implement its puzzling provisions.
One of the most baffling of these is the restriction of the number of members who can elect the governing body of a society to 300. If any organization has more than these — and many group housing societies do — then they will have to devise a method of cutting the number down to below this figure and form a "collegium" of those that remain. These collegiums will then replace the general body and will elect a governing council or executive committee.
Either of these two will further elect the office bearers. Once the collegium is formed, the general body will cease to have any role for three years.
Only an inspired bureaucratic mind could have devised such a complicated structure. In effect, it disenfranchises regular dues-paying members who fall outside the 300 mark for three years and they will no longer be involved in the decision making or the election process. The reason for this is not clear. "There were too many disputes as the societies were unwieldy," says Hardayal Sehrawat, district registrar of societies, Gurgaon. But surely, some other solution could have been found, if at all this was a problem. If the Indian democracy with over half a billion voters can manage with three tiers, why do Haryana's societies need four — general body, collegium, governing council and office-bearers?
There is a provision, Section 32(1)(i) which permits the society to pass a resolution to "continue with the present number of members." "That," says Sehrawat, "applies only to cases where there are at least six months left for the date for the election of the governing body." If that was the intention, why was the law not made clear enough? But, why 300 in the first place?
The 2012 law recognizes the Haryana Apartment Ownership Act, but the boundaries between the two enactments are not clear. It appears that group housing societies will now have to get themselves registered under both the societies and the apartment laws. In some instances, the provisions of the two come into conflict with each other. So, the condominium associations will now serve two masters with conflicting sets of rules. Was the Department of Town and Country Planning consulted when the new societies law was being framed? If it was then, why do we have duplication of registrations, bye-laws and the consequent confusion. The other major stake-holders — people who run the societies and are its members — were, of course, totally ignored.
Clause 8 of the 2012 Act says that every existing society will have to get a new registration number. Does that imply that each society will have to be registered afresh after it has changed its rules and regulations to fall in line with the new law? But Section 92(3) says that any society registered under the old enactment "shall be deemed to have been registered under the Act."
Somewhere in the esoteric world of Chandigarh's law makers, the realization must dawn that common people are not as erudite as they are and that rules must be made simple and citizen-friendly.
The statute is rather presumptuous when it bars citizens from seeking redressal in the courts when judicial review is one of the rights given in our Constitution. In fact, it would surprise no one if, in case the government does not reappraise the provisions of the new law, the matter does end up in there.
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