REDEVELOPMENT OF HOUSING SOCIETIES AND MISMANAGEMENT BY THE MANAGING COMMITTEES / REDEVELOPMENT OF HOUSING SOCIETIES AND MISMANAGEMENT BY THE MANAGING COMMITTEES
REDEVELOPMENT OF HOUSING SOCIETIES AND MISMANAGEMENT BY THE MANAGING COMMITTEES
RTI can be a great tool in the hands of housing society members to bring in more transparency in the functioning of the Managing Committee.
Do you find the Managing Committee of your housing society acting difficult in parting with information that you are desperately seeking for? Do you feel some irregularities are going on in your CHS and the facts are being hidden? You can use the RTI act to get the desired information through the proper channel.
In a recent development in Mumbai, a member of a CHS did exactly that to unearth some of the irregularities that were going on in his housing society. Sure enough, his efforts paid off, and taking a cue, many house owners can now question their society Managing Committee members by using the RTI act if they felt things were not right.
A member of one of the housing societies wanted to find out details about certain irregularities in his co-operative society, but was met with indifference. A provision in the Maharashtra state co-op soc act 1960, sec 73(1AB) and Rule 58-A, which requires a member elected to the Managing Committee to execute a bond, taking personal responsibility of his action as a member of the Managing Committee within 15 days of assuming office turned the situation.
It said that if the bond is not executed within the time frame, the Managing Committee member shall be deemed disqualified. This member wanted to know if the Managing Committee had executed the bond at all.
If the Managing Committee is not being transparent the individual member of the society can appeal to the registrar for the information required. In the event of a refusal or evasion by the registrar who is a government officer, the individual can use the RTI act to elicit information about his cooperative society.
Since this member did not receive any reply within 30 days of his appeal for information to the first appellate at the Registrar of the Co-operative housing societies, he appealed again to the deputy registrar and this time 90 days passed without a reply.
Finally with the help of his Advocate, he filed an application under the RTI act, with the State Information Commission (SIC). This time his action brought results. The SIC issued an order in which it pointed out the fact that the Managing Committee members of the society in question had failed to execute the bond for more than 400 days. Several other irregularities also came to light with regard to the mismanagement of society’s fund, thereby exposing the wrong doings of the committee members.
This was at an instance of RTI being used to find out the irregularities of a housing society. Some of the issues regarding housing society functioning and irregularities by the government and civic authorities regarding important documents can be questioned by an individual or a group of individuals under the RTI act.
In any case the CHS is bound to divulge information to its members under the society byelaws. But in many cases they are found to be ignoring the queries, some times due to mismanagement or due to vested interests. The use of RTI act comes in handy in such cases.
Most executive members do not know to what extent an individual is empowered to take action against an erring committee. This shows the way to more individuals to take action not just against the housing society but also the society to take action against authorities like the municipal corporation and the builders if some irregularities are found in obtaining the occupation certificates, handing over of the conveyance deeds and other such issues.
It is important that the ordinary members be able to use the RTI act against the regulatory authorities to elicit information, if it is not coming directly from the authority concerned.
In most cases the members and the committee are not aware of the rights of the members and the responsibility of the committee of a CHS. We pay for maintenance but don't know how our money is being used. Many of us do not know how to use the law to elicit information. So awareness has to be created and such examples will help us understand our rights and the workings of the law better.
All documents, records, and the working and management of a cooperative housing society come under the provisions of the Right to Information Act. Hence a member can demand information for further scrutiny, appeal or instruction.
The right to access information or documents pertaining to cheques, bank account statements, tenders, contracts, share certificates in a cooperative housing society cannot be withheld on any grounds. A member can approach the RTI officer about any dispute with the society or Redevelopment Programs being grounded if the executive members refuse to answer his queries.
Experts disclose that the Right to Information Act is a central act adopted by all state governments. Under the right to information act not just society members but also outsiders like a housing activist or any aggrieved party can call for information.
In many instances of grave misuse of power by the Managing Committees have been reported during the recent years. In such a scenario, another tool to empower an individual to exert his right to information for resolving genuine problems is a welcome move.
The Supreme Court in a recent judgment directed that the Right to Information is a part of the fundamental right granted to citizens under article 19(1) of the constitution of India. Information is vital to the smooth functioning of a democracy, by way of allowing greater transparency and accountability.
RTI means “Right Thinking Indians”. Use of RTI helps to ensure that.
Counselor and Analyst for Redevelopment of Housing Societies