Now, even societies with fewer than 200 members can have secret ballot

Written By Unknown on Senin, 01 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: On Saturday, thousands of Mumbaikars who live in housing societies won their battle for secrecy in society elections. Similarly, members aspiring to fight elections will get enough time to prove their validity in case of objections to their nominations. Also, associate members will be able to vote only if they are second to the owner on the property's share certificate.

Elections of all housing societies will now be through secrete ballot; provided there is no unanimity over managing committee candidates. Earlier secret ballot was allowed only in big societies with 200 and more members while the rest of the small societies were asked to conduct elections through voice vote. Big societies, though, make up just 5% of the total 70,000 societies in Mumbai metro region. Small societies have nearly 65 lakh families living against around 10 lakh in big housing societies having 200 or more flats and shops.

A circular to this effect was issued by the state cooperative election commissioner Madhukar Chaudhary on Saturday removing all complexities to make all rules clear and simpler akin to the norms followed in general elections. Chaudhary heads the newly formed state cooperative election authority. It may be mentioned that around 36,000 of the total 70,000 societies in the region are due for election following the expiry of their committees over the past two years. These societies have not held elections since a couple of years in the absence of rules governing society elections.

In case of rejection of a candidate's nomination, a one-month period will be given to go in appeal with the registrar. This rule will be followed in all the societies now. Previously this too was allowed in big societies while in small societies having less than 200 members such a period to go in appeal was not mandatory for the polling officer and elections were supposed to be over within a day's time. People from smaller societies, which form a big chunk in Mumbai region, had termed this an injustice to them.

An associate member wanting to participate in the election has to have his name present on the owner's share certificate following owner's recommendation. "Earlier some people used to pay additional fees to become associate members which will not be allowed this time. Most of the time the influential builders and politicians took advantage of this rule which has been tightened and made more transparent," said a source in the state cooperative election authority (SCEA).

SCEA has already made it clear that defaulters who have not paid maintenance since the past several months will not be able to vote to elect the management committee members as per new election rules framed under SCEA. Earlier such defaulters were not allowed to fight the elections though they were allowed to vote. In the new system, they will not be part of the voter's list as well and thus every member interested in participating elections will have to pay dues at the earliest. Similarly those interested in contesting elections will have to pay deposit up to Rs 1,000, which has been waived in case of SC/ST candidates.

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