The Registrar can be compared to the ‘friendly neighbourhood Spiderman’ that helps society and committee members when they are stuck in an imbroglio, prevents any wrongdoing by greedy middlemen, intervenes when the society is slacking in its duties and without the mask or the costume acts as the legally appointed supervisor who can be counted on for resolutions and redressals.
Who is Registrar?
In other words, the Registrar’s office is the first legal point of contact for most circumstances and the authority figure that plays a vital role in ensuring the effectiveness and longevity of the society. The office of the Registrar is established for the purposes of maintaining transparency, efficiency, speediness of action, and equitable settlement of disputes. This article covers the powers and duties of the Registrar who is aided by Joint/Deputy Registrar, Assistant Registrar, Specially Appointed Officers, and other administrative staff who operate within assigned districts and jurisdictions in each state.
Powers of the Registrar
- Amalgamate, divide or re-organize co-operative societies
- Ensure, supervise and regulate proper investment of funds by societies
- Issue directives to reform, change, amend society bye-laws
- Cancel or suspend the registration of a society
- To appoint an Inquiry Officer and an Administrator to inspect and put in motion rectification measures if a society is malfunctioning
- To enforce a directive or a law that is being flouted by the society
- To be an arbitrator and settle a society’s disputes
- To remove and penalise any member of the managing committee if they are found in violation, or engaged in misconduct or fraud
- To appoint the Secretary, Manager, Treasurer or any other office-bearer as part of the managing committee or as such to appoint an entire committee if the society fails to elect it on its own
- To approve or disapprove a membership in case if a prospective member appeals to the Registrar’s office
- To fix surcharge on negligent functionaries of cooperative societies
- Play the role of an appellate court if and when needed
- Call a Special Body Meeting of the society
- Close down a defunct society and cease all its functions
- To issue legal action against defaulting/fraudulent builders/architects/contractors, etc.
- To summon any member of the society with respect to an inquiry and demand to produce any documents or records from the society for examination
- To seize the records, assets, or property of the society
- To appoint an auditor for the annual audit of the society, inspect the audit results, and set in place rectification or punitive measures for any defaults or malfeasance
- To appoint an officer to conduct the mandatory Annual Body Meeting of the society if the society fails to do so on its own
- To remove a member from the society if he/she is found in gross misconduct or harmful and criminal behaviour and oversee the eviction/auction procedure when the society needs to recover its dues
- To execute welfare schemes or loans for better functioning of the society
- Ensure timely elections of the society, appoint a Returning Officer and enforce the election if need be
- Penalise committee members who refuse to end term after five years in office (unless re-elected)
Duties of the Registrar
- Registration of co-operative housing societies
- Accept resignations by society members or committee members
- Approve and disburse loans from one society to another
- Approve proposed bye-laws of the society after ensuring they are in compliance with societies act
- To respond to a membership appeal, society inquiries and other relevant applications (if directed correctly) at the Registrar’s office and correspond in a timely manner
- To be an arbitrator on behalf of the member if the society is refusing membership under unacceptable pretexts
- To provide a fair hearing opportunity to any member of the society who is facing penalty, expulsion or allegations
- To provide a fair hearing to the society or any other third party who is involved in a dispute for which the Registrar is the arbitrator
- To appoint an Election Officer for the society’s election who oversees the entire process (except societies with less than 250 members who can conduct their own polls)
- Set restrictions on assignment of occupancy right in the flat
- To change, modify the name of the society upon their application
- To send a Representative from the Registrar’s office to attend a society’s redevelopment meetings and approve/disapprove any related proposals
- Maintain records of all registered societies, their election records, committee members’ addresses, and audit reports
- To handle below mentioned member complaints and provide redressal:
- Registration based on misrepresentation
- Non issuance of Share Certificate
- Refusal of election nomination on invalid reasons
- Demanding excessive premium or non-occupancy charges under false pretexts
- Refusal to inspect society’s records or tampering, suppression of records
- Failure to prepare account audit reports, annual meeting reports
- Misappropriation or misapplication of society’s funds
- Disqualified members being appointed to committee
- Reconciliation of accounts/audit reports/audit rectification reports
- Not conducting elections at prescribed period
- Failure to conduct annual general body meetings
- Not filing returns and statements
- Classification of active and non-active members
This is a comprehensive (not exhaustive) list of the primary duties and powers of the Registrar of Cooperative Housing Societies. Of course, there are other minor or even unforeseeable scenarios that are often handled by the Registrar’s office as and when they arise. The model bye-laws, Cooperative Societies Acts and society rules are also helpful in understanding the nuanced situations under which the Registrar’s role is clearly defined.
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