Cooperative housing society members are up in arms over insinuations of an indemnity bond repeal, writes Gajanan Khergamker
With great power comes great responsibility. Managing committee members overseeing cooperative housing societies’ activities, even handling their collective funds across the city, have an inherent responsibility towards the millions of cooperative housing society members whose day-to-day living they affect by way of decisions and norms.
This responsibility is ensured by the law that warrants committee members sign an indemnity bond. Failure to do so, directly translates into relinquishment of office.
According to Section 73 (1AB) of the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, that was inserted by Mah. 41 of 2000, members of committee are jointly and severally responsible for all their acts and omission is and for every decision relating to the business of the society.
Every elected member of the Managing Committee shall execute a bond within 45 days of his assuming office. Each bond shall be executed on the stamp paper as provided under the Bombay Stamp Act 1958.
A member who fails to execute the bond within 45 days is deemed to have vacated office as a member of the Committee. One could approach the Registrar’s office with a complaint on the same issue for redress.
Managing committee members across the city have been unanimous in their protest towards having to sign the M-20 bond which they felt was excessive considering that their work was ‘honorary’ and that since they were ‘going out of their way’ to do any work for the society, ‘forcing’ them to sign a bond was wrong. But then, since it was laid down by law, there was no escaping that.
Surprisingly, in a speech made last month at the Housing Melava, Chief Guest co-operative Minister Harshvardan Patil said the requirement for managing committees of CHS to compulsorily file M-20 Bonds within 45 days or face automatic dismissal may be removed. Provisions for appointing administrators nominated by the cooperatives department for replacing the expelled managing committees may also be removed. And, new rules may be framed to make it easier for managing committees of housing societies to expel members who were ‘troublemakers’.
The statements sent ripples of concern among millions of housing activists and cooperative housing society members who feel that the move would provide the perfect ruse for corrupt managing committee members who would dodge all liability to their actions.
Sadly, the one thing that the indemnity bond does it that it defeats the very basis of societies…cooperation. In a scenario of cooperation, there should be no forced action or an indemnity bond to ensure behaviour or prevent misuse.
‘Not really of help’
An M-20 bond doesn’t really stop managing committee members from indulging in a wrong if they want to. A bond only makes the managing committee look ‘accountable,’ on the face of things. A managing committee’s members can sign the M-20 bond and yet be unaccountable for the work.
There are so many societies where there are no M-20 bonds signed and where their managing committee members behave like they own the societies.
Also, I have yet to hear of a case where a society’s losses have been indemnified by the managing committee.
The M-20 bond makes the members happy and feel secure though it serves no purpose whatsoever.
— Financial Consultant Tarun Chandiramani
‘Unfair to others’
It works as a deterrent but seems unfair for one who gets pulled up for no fault of his. A mischievous element in a society committee may not sign the bond and his actions may land up affecting the innocent others in the managing committee who have signed the bond.
Although an indemnity bond is a must by law, not many cooperative housing societies have signed it. The fact that it doesn’t hold appeal to most societies indicates that the bond should go.
— Secretary, Jupiter CHS, Lionel Andrade
Sadly, although an indemnity bond itself is a good thing, very often, a lot of mischievous elements within the society tend to take advantage of the norm and resort to blackmail techniques to get their work done.
— Chairman Shalimar CHS, AB Shetty
Bond Must Stay
An M-20 bond is the only thing that keeps a managing committee’s members on their toes. If it weren’t for the M-20 bond, a managing committee member who only take up this work hoping to make some money out of it, will go on money-making rampage.
Currently, if a managing committee is caught doing a wrong, at least the members have the option of making them pay for their actions and getting them dismissed. Without the M-20 bond, it’s like a dictatorship. While we talk about fighting corruption and making laws to stop it, we also try to scrap a law that’s created to prevent of corruption. The M-20 bond must stay.
— Civil Engineer Philip Remedios
(Inputs from Prerna Pandey)
A bond helps protect members’ interests
In my opinion, the M-20 bond should not be scraped at all. Without it, managing a cooperative housing society will only get more difficult.
Not having to sign an indemnity bond will give teeth to corrupt managing committee members who do this work for vested interest and not ‘honorary work’ and as ‘selflessly; as they try to project.
People who are clean and really want to do good work for the society don’t really hesitate before signing an M-20 bond.
It’s only those who see this honorary work as some money-making business who would not want to sign the bond.
Even though there are almost M-20 bond-like provisions present in the by-laws themselves there is no provision for ‘dismissal’ of the managing committee for any kind of wrong doing, like in an M-20 bond. I used to live in a society where managing committee members were upto a lot of mischief.
So I, along with other members got the managing committee dismissed.
But the matter didn’t end there; the managing committee went ahead and appealed to higher authorities against their dismissal.
Now, why would anyone who is doing ‘honorary work,’ want to go through so much trouble just to continue doing the ‘so-called honorary work’?
Anyone who doesn’t have vested interest will think ‘why should I waste my time doing honorary work when the society doesn’t want me?’
When someone goes to so much extent that they go and fight just so they can continue doing honorary work, it is clear that they don’t have clean hands.
Only those who want to indulge in wrongdoings and make money out of this ‘honorary’ work, will want the M-20 bond removed.
- Housing Rights Activist JB Patel