By Rahul Sarkar
Types of Membership in Co-operative Societies
By Rahul Sarkar
A member of a co-operative society is someone who applies for admittance into the society by purchasing shares in it and is eventually granted registration, membership and a residential unit to occupy. Let’s understand the six classes of membership in brief.
1. Original Member
An original member is a person under whose name the membership exists (whose name is on the purchase deed) and is registered as a shareholder and allowed admittance into the society. He is the first point of contact for the society and his name is recorded as the primary shareholder on the share certificate. If there are any other members nominated after the original member, their names appear subsequently. After having purchased the residence (owning shares) in the society, he is considered an ‘Active Member’ if he attends at least one general body meeting in a period of five years, pays his maintenance charges and other society charges on time.
2. Associate Member
An associate member is someone who jointly owns the shares/property in the society and whose name appears subsequently after the original member’s name in the share certificate. Associate members are admitted into the society after paying the admittance fee of Rs 100. Even though the ownership of the residence is not primarily under the associate member’s name, he/she has the right to occupy the residence after the written consent of the original member and (upon written approval) is also allowed to attend the general body meetings of the society. Associate members are usually the spouse, parents and children of the original member.
An associate member can also vote and contest in the election of the housing society and if he/she wins, has the right to be the office-bearer in the Managing Committee of the society as well. Keep in mind that any associate member who only paid the admittance fee but does not have joint ownership in the shares/property of the society, cannot contest for the Election. As associate membership ceases to exist upon the death or resignation of the member. Even if the original member ceases to be a member anymore, the associate membership still holds value as long as they own shares/property in the society.
3. Nominal Member
As defined by the model bye-laws, “Nominal Member” means a person who does not hold the right, title and interest in the property individually or jointly admitted to Membership as such after registration. A nominal member is not given any shares in the society. Usually, nominal members are sublettees, tenants or licensed caretakers (such as agents), etc. As the name suggests, a nominal member only has the right to occupy the residence and live in the society by following the bye-laws, but they do not have to attend general body meetings and cannot stand for election or vote and do not have a say in the workings of the Managing Committee but are treated as the rightful residents of the society. Admittance fee for a nominal member is also Rs 100.
4. Sympathizer Member
A sympathizer member is somewhat of an honorary position and it is given to a member who shares the common goals, interests and objectives of the society. He has no right to vote and is not allotted any shares in the society. A sympathizer member is usually someone with a high degree of specialisation and responsible for guiding the society in his area of expertise. This could include architects, engineers, finance experts, housing experts, etc. They are not admitted as members with any residential or title rights.
5. Corporate Member
A legally registered company can become a member of a society to provide accommodation to its employees. But the government dictates that more than 50% of total membership cannot be granted to a company in a housing society. The company’s MOA should have a clause that they can invest money in purchasing residences/shops in the society. The managing committee of such a society should have no more than one-fourth of company members in. Only if the company has invested funds in the society, they have the right to be a part of the committee and the appointed representatives have the right to vote as well. The company is also responsible for informing the society the change in residence occupants and pay monthly contributions to the society.
6. Minor Member
A minor is eligible to enter into a contract and obtain membership of the society but only through his guardian or legal representative; when he is no longer a minor, he has the statutory right to participate in any sale transactions of the residence on his own. If the property is under the name of the minor and handled through the guardian, the society cannot undertake any legal actions regarding transfer unless a judgment is ruled by ‘competent court’.