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MUMBAI: Members in big housing societies or townships, which have more than 200 members, will have to cast vote through secret ballot to elect their new management committees. This is a regulation laid down by the recently constituted state cooperative election authority, (SCEA), which has directed that the 40% housing societies in Mumbai region, which have not voted for three years, will have to elect their management committee by December 31.

But societies with a membership of less than 200 can elect the new committee members by voice vote, headcount or by raising hands in the presence of an officer appointed by the SCEA. Earlier, these small housing societies could conduct elections on their own, without any presiding officer.

The officers have finally set the ball rolling for the election following the formation of the SCEA after much deliberation; the delay has pushed back polls in many societies for two years. The state has now announced that elections have to be held in all categories of cooperatives societies—housing societies and cooperative banks, mills and credit societies—which have either not held polls for past three years or the five-year term of their committees have been over. Such societies add up to 40% of the 70,000 societies in Mumbai metropolitan region.

Another regulation set by the authority is that members, who have defaulted on maintenance charge for several months, will not be allowed to vote. Earlier, they could not contest though they could vote. In the new system, every interested society member will have to clear their dues at the earliest. Those contesting the elections will have to pay a deposit of up to Rs 1,000, which has been waived for SC/ST candidates.

Ramesh Prabhu, president of Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association, has objected to the open voting system for small societies. “Secret ballot is necessary for a free and fair poll. Also, no timeframe has been set to go in for appeal against the polling officer if nomination is rejected in smaller societies,” he said. Prabhu claimed the polling staff’s paltry remuneration of Rs 750 opened up scope for corruption.

Societies will have to submit their dates and lists of registered members to the local registrar. “Deputy or assistant registrars will send the matter to SCEA,” a cooperatives official told TOI. An officer will call a general body meeting when the polls will be conducted by him.

Source: TNN | Nov 20, 2014, 03.24AM IST