Election Procedure for Housing Societies

Election Procedure for Housing Societies

Co-operative housing societies follow the model bye-laws, which are comprehensive and prescribe a number of rules and procedures for elections. In this article, we will simplify and decode how election of managing committee of housing society works. We will cover the important facets that truly matter for the election procedure for a co-operative society.

Housing society election due date

Within the first three months of registration of the society, the Chief Promoter is required to call the First General Body Meeting of the society, Election being one of the topmost priorities of the meeting along with the constitution of the Provisional Committee until regular elections are held under bye-laws of the Society. Regular elections are supposed to be held once every five years as per the Bye-Laws.

Voting rights of members of housing society

All members: According to a recent amendment, any eligible or associate member is to be granted the right to vote as soon as he/she is admitted as a member of the society.

On house, one vote: Each unit of a housing society has a vote. For example, if you own multiple flats/houses in a society, each of them is liable to get a vote. Even those who default payments are allowed to vote.

How many members are there in a society committee?

Number of members in a SocietyGeneralReserved (Women SC/ST OBC VJ/NT/SBC)TotalQuorum for Meeting (simple majority of the existing Committee Members)
Upto 10065116
101 to 20085137
201 to 300105158
301 to 500125179
501 and above1451910

Who is not eligible for candidature?who cannot become committee member of housing society?

According to the Model Bye-Laws, a critical reason for a member to not be able to contest an election is If he defaults the payment of dues to the society, within three months from the date of service of notice in writing.

An Associate Member (a person with joint ownership whose name does not stand first in the Share Certificate) for whom the Original Member has not issued a No-Objection Certificate cannot contest the Election.

Proposers (someone who nominates a candidate) and seconders (someone who supports the nomination) have no such restrictions as they are allowed to nominate and support any number of candidatures irrespective of defaulted payments or arrears.

How many members are required in a managing committee?

Under Bye-Law 113, the strength of the Managing Committee could be made up of 11, 13, 15, 17 or 19 members, with respect to the number of total members in the society. The break-up is as follows:

Forming a managing committee

Model Bye-Laws from 114 to 116 have put forth certain laws that help you in forming a strong and reliable Managing Committee.

Members of the Committee are to be elected every five years (before the expiry of the five-year term). An E-2 form to be submitted to the to the District Co-operative Election Officer or Taluka or Ward Co-operative Election Officer six months prior to the expiry of the Committee period of the society in case if the society has over 200 members. If they do not notify the State Election Authority and continue to hold office, it is a violation of the law resulting in action from the Registrar.

In order to oversee the objectives, special requirements or functions of the Society, two Expert Directors and/or two Functional Directors may be co-opted. But they will have no right to vote and do not count as members of the Managing Committee.

No office bearer is allowed to have any financial, transactional or vested interests with regards to the society, unless the financial transactions involve giving residential accommodation to the paid member of the society.

Societies with less than 200 members conducting independent elections are liable for a Rs 25,000 fine if they fail to produce accounts, documents, or paperwork to the government or the members of the society.

Who cannot become committee member of housing society?

Members with questionable moral behaviour, defaulted payments within three months of written notice, Associate Member without NOC from original member are not eligible. Anyone who sublets or rents their house without notifying the society in advance is also not eligible.

Anyone who fails to furnish valid bookkeeping/expenditure records with respect to the funds provided by the society is not eligible. Anyone who neglects their assigned duties and is deemed to be in breach of trust is not eligible to be part of the committee.

Over and above that, if a member has failed to attend any three consecutive monthly meetings of the Committee, without leave of absence, he is disqualified from the Committee.

Retired members who have not been disqualified are eligible for election.

Co-operative society election rules and process

The housing society election rules requires one to declare the initial procedures to the voters by the Managing Committee ( or the Provisional Managing Committee in case if the first Election is to be conducted) at least three months prior to the Election date.

A Returning Officer should be appointed to carry out the Voting Procedures and ensure adherence of the rules. A Returning Officer should be someone who is not contesting the Election in any capacity. Nor should he be proposing or seconding a candidate. In other words, he should be an absolutely unbiased and trusted individual. Usually, someone takes up this position voluntarily. Otherwise, members jointly entrust the responsibilities on a member they deem fit for the duties. In many cases, a financial compensation is made to the Returning Officer for his professional services.

The Conduct of Election should involve the following steps that make the entire procedure methodical and hassle-free. Each process should be published on the Notice Board of the society within ten days of displaying the final list of the voters.

Date of declaration of
election programme
Date to be announced at the time of declaration of programme.
Last date for making nominations5 days from the date of declaration of election programme.
The date of publication of list of nominations receivedAs and when received till the last date fixed for making nominations.
Date of scrutiny of nominations.Next day of the last date for making nominations
Date of publication of list of valid nominations after scrutiny.Next day after the date of completion of scrutiny.
Date by which candidature may be withdrawn.Within 15 days from the date of publication of list of valid nominations after scrutiny
Date of publication of the final list of contesting candidates and allotment of election symbols.The day after the last day of fixed for withdrawal of candidature.
Date and time during which and the place/ places at which the poll shall be taken if necessary.Not earlier than 7 days but not later than 15 days from the date of publication of the final list of contesting candidate (time and place to be fixed by the Returning Officer).
Date, time and place for counting of votes.Not later than the third day from the date of which the poll shall be taken (Time and place to be fixed by the Returning Officer).
Date of declaration of results of voting.Immediately after the counting of votes.

If the paid up share capital of the said society is more than Rs. 10, 000, the voting is conducted by secret ballot.

At the time of the voting, each member is shown an empty ballot box before they cast their vote. The Ballot Paper usually has the seal of the society and the counterfoil the initials of the Returning Officer. The Ballot Box is sealed in front of the voters and all the documents/votes relevant to the Election are stored safely by the Secretary who is required to preserve them for three months and then destroy them afterwards. This is done in case of disputes.

After the results, the current committee hands over the charge to the newly elected committee.

In summary, timely execution of required procedures is quite essential to carry out an Election successfully. At each step of the way, the members need clarity and transparency from the elected members . At the same time, members need to be proactively involved in the election procedures as it is commonly observed in many housing societies that the same individuals are selected as office bearers in every term. This may lead to lethargy, inefficiency, or malfeasance in many cases.

Important points to note regarding housing society elections

Equal voting right: In general, each member of the housing society who owns a property has equal voting rights. In general, a member with a larger flat, say 3BHK, does not have a higher voting weightage than someone with a smaller flat, say 2BHK. A person who owns two flats in the society, on the other hand, gets two votes. Votes are usually cast based on the number of units rather than the number of members. In exceptional societies formed as limited liability companies rather than cooperatives, voting rights vary depending on the size of the unit. The Right2Vote eVoting platform allows you to create all types of elections, including those with weightage based on the number of units and weightage based on the size of the flat.

Voting rights of owners: All members of the housing society who own property have the right to vote. No member should be denied the right to vote. In most cases, the first owner has the right to vote, but co-owners may be allowed to vote as well.

Denial of voting rights: A bylaw may state that members who have not paid their society dues in full may be denied voting rights.

Tenant voting rights: In general, tenants do not have voting rights. Each flat’s voting rights are limited to the flat’s owner.

Voting window: To vote, a voter must be given a reasonable voting window. Keeping a very short voting window is restrictive and may lead to members complaining that their right to vote was denied. We recommend a minimum voting window of 8 hours if all of your voters are in India, and a minimum of 24 hours if your members are located outside of India to account for different time zones. In general, many societies keep a voting window of less than 2 hours, which can lead to legal issues.

Reasonable notice of election date and voting window: All voters should be given advance notice of the elections. In general, a minimum of 14 days advance notice is required. However, depending on the bye law, it can vary from society to society.

Intimation of election date and process: A society must notify its members in advance of its intention to hold elections and solicit nominations for various positions. This is usually done at least 21 days before the election date. The rules and procedures for nomination and election must also be distributed by the society.
Right to stand in elections: All owners/members have the same right to vote in elections. No owner can be denied the right to vote unless:
the owner’s title to the property is in dispute.
The owner has not paid all of the society’s dues.

Election method: The Acts or model bye laws have generally been silent on the election method, so both paper-based voting and online voting can be used. A show of hands is generally not recommended, especially when a’secret ballot’ is required. More information on this topic can be found on this blog.

Secret ballot: Most State Cooperative Acts and model bylaws state that members should be elected by secret ballot. Nobody, not even the election officer, should be able to tell which members voted for which candidates using a secret ballot. This is to ensure secrecy of member’s vote so that member can vote with his free will and there is no chance of coercion.

Proxy voting: The majority of Acts and model bylaws state that “members should vote in person.” This means that proxy voting is not permitted. It should not be confused with the requirement of voter physical presence. It simply means that a voter cannot delegate his or her voting rights and responsibilities to someone else. Proxy voting clauses differ from society to society; please carefully review your bylaws for the same.

Postal voting: Many Acts and bye-laws expressly provide for postal voting, in which members can vote by mail. However, due to election deadlines, postal voting is generally not feasible, and online voting is a preferred option for voters who live elsewhere or are traveling.

Election of Committee Members: Rules differ in model byelaws relating to election of committee members. In a few states, such as West Bengal, members vote to elect committee members, and the committee members decide who will hold the titles of President, Treasurer, Secretary, and so on. Members in other states, such as Karnataka, vote directly to appoint specific candidates to positions such as President, Treasurer, Secretary, and so on. Members in other states, such as Karnataka, vote directly to appoint specific candidates to positions such as President, Treasurer, Secretary, and so on. A few members are also elected to the committee. Right2Vote’s eVoting platform includes ‘Team Election – Exact’ and ‘Team Election – Upto’ features to assist societies in electing a team of committee members from the same list of candidates. Check your bylaws to see if voters can choose an exact number of candidates or if they can choose fewer than the number of positions. Both customizations are available on the Right2Vote platform. This feature is not available on the majority of other platforms.

What do you think?