Housing Society Problems and Solutions: Harassment from Managing Committee Member; Process for Co-membership
Shirish Shanbhag 02 May 2024
Living in a cooperative housing society (CHS/Society) requires that each resident member treats others with respect and lives in harmony with the residents or tenants. Harassment of any kind is a serious offence and should not be tolerated. There are rules and established procedures to swiftly address instances of harassment. These rules are in place to prevent future occurrences and to ensure a safe and positive living environment for all residents.
Should a member experience harassment from another member or a committee member, there is a process for reporting such an incident. One may first file a written complaint with the managing committee, and depending on the seriousness and nature of the incident, it can be further escalated to the deputy registrar or even the local police authorities. 
This week, I will address one such case, where a former managing committee member has been threatening and harassing incumbent managing committee members. I will also explain the process of adding a co-member to a solely-owned flat, how a correction can be made in the registered sale deed and who are the authorised signatories for a cheque issued by the Society. 
Harassment and Threats from Secretary of Housing Society
Question: One of our resident members had verbally abused our secretary while in a drunken state. The incident got out of hand, when the secretary had filed a police complaint against the erring member. Since then, the secretary has resigned from his post and has been harassing other members of the Society for not supporting his case. He has made threats that he will damage all water supply lines, drainage pipes and the entrance gate. Please advise on a solution for this problem.
Answer: You should file a complaint with the deputy registrar (DR) of cooperative societies under bye-law no. 174(A)(xxii). In such a complaint, you should ask the DR to appoint an authorised officer (administrator) to your Society and to call for an election.
In such a complaint, you should also mention that though the present secretary (mention the name and flat number) has resigned, he should be further debarred for six years from contesting managing committee elections of the Society. Once your Society has elected a better managing committee, your problem should be resolved. 
Addition of Co-member to Solely Owned Flat
Question: My mother owns as loan-free one-room-kitchen (1RK) with a 192sqft (square feet) area in Maharashtra's Talegaon Dabhade (Varale) area. She wants to add me as a co-owner on the property, as she does not have time to look after the house, tenants or to attend the Society meetings. Can you please guide me on the process, the applicable stamp duty and registration fees for such a transaction?
Answer: To add you as a co-member in the flat of a CHS at Talegaon Dabhade (Varale) area, your mother should do a gift deed by gifting 50% of the value of her 1RK flat to you. On this gift deed, 1% of the government market value of your mother's flat will be the payable stamp duty and Rs200 registration charges will be applicable. 
With a copy of such a registered and stamp duty paid gift deed and its index-2, you can apply for co-membership on the form available in appendix-5 of the Society's bye-laws book of 2014.
We will not be answering queries posted in the comments. Only questions sent through the Moneylife Foundation's Legal Helpline will be answered. If you want to seek guidance or ask questions to Mr Shanbhag, kindly send it through Moneylife Foundation's Free Legal Helpline. Here is the link: https://www.moneylife.in/lrc.html#ask-question
Correction of Flat Area in Sale Deed
Question: The records that we have and those that the Society maintains do not match as far as the actual/exact area of the flat purchased from the builder in 1985. The sale agreement also fails to provide any clarity, and the assessment or capital value statement from the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is not recognised by our Society. The original building plan is also not traceable. Can you please guide us about how and from where we can manage to get to the actual area of the flat?
Answer: I presume from your query that the Society or you, individually, have attempted to obtain the Society's BMC-approved building plan from the building proposal department. If you are informed that the building plan has been misplaced or is not traceable, the Society has to initiate a separate process of drawing up a new plan with the help of a BMC-approved architect. Such a building plan drawn up by an approved architect can be submitted on record to the BMC.
Further, a flat's area in the individual flat's sale deed can be corrected with a correction or amendment deed (AD), with the flat's plan attached to said AD. This should resolve your issue. 
Authorised Signatory on Cheques
Question: Can you please clarify who is authorised to sign the Society's cheques? Should it only be the office-bearers, i.e., the chairman, secretary and treasurer? Or are the joint chairman, joint secretary and joint treasurers also allowed to sign cheques? In our Society, a management committee resolution (which has been shared with the bank) has authorised members who are not office bearers to sign cheques. Please advise.
Answer: The secretary's signature is mandatory on a cheque issued by the Society. Apart from the secretary, two other committee members, i.e. chairman and treasurer can sign the cheque. To have some flexibility, some societies make the joint secretary and/or the joint treasurer as alternate two signatories and pass it as a resolution in the managing committee meeting. There should be three signatories, one mandatory and two flexible, as explained above. 
Disclaimer: The guidance provided in these columns and on our Legal Helpline is on the sole basis of the facts provided by the reader/questioner and does not amount to formal legal advice in any form whatsoever. 
(Shirish Shanbhag has an MSc in Organic Chemistry, a Diploma in Higher Education, and a Diploma in French and has completed his LL.B. in first class in 2021. Before his retirement, he was a junior college teacher at Patkar College from July 1980 to May 2012, teaching theoretical and practical chemistry. Post-retirement in 2012, he started providing guidance and counselling to people on several issues, specifically focusing on cooperative housing society-related matters. He has over 30 years of hands-on experience in all matters about housing societies and can provide out-of-box solutions for any practical issue.)
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