Democracy is vital to every group, including gated communities. This is why every cooperative housing community regularly holds elections to elect a Management Committee (MC) or Resident Welfare Association (RWA). As a form of grassroots democracy, housing society elections are important as the elected body is responsible for making critical decisions for the community.
Cooperative societies operate within the framework of their model bye-laws. Apart from rules and regulations for their day-to-day activities, these laws also dictate the duration of an MC’s or RWA’s term and when the elections should take place.
Holding the first managing committee election
Housing society elections have to be held soon after a society’s registration. The Chief Promoter calls the society’s first General Body Meeting within the first three months. Holding polls is the key priority during the meeting. Thereafter, elections must be held once every five years. Failing that, a member has the right to demand an election.
What happens if this demand is ignored? The member has the right to complain with the committee which must respond within 15 days. In the absence of any response by the committee, the member can approach the Deputy Registrar’s office. The Deputy Registrar then issues a show cause notice to the housing society after which a hearing is held.
The existing committee can be dissolved if it is found that it failed its duty to hold elections. Fresh polls should then be held within six months. In the interim, the Deputy Registrar can appoint an administrative officer to run the affairs of the society. Alternatively, the member can also approach a Cooperative Court or file a case in the civil court.
Voting rights of members
Every member or associate member is eligible to cast a vote in housing society elections. Typically, each unit of the housing society gets one vote. So, if you own more than one unit, you are eligible to cast a vote for each unit.
Who can contest the elections?
To qualify, a candidate must be:
- Above 18 years of age
- A resident of the housing society
- Have cleared all dues to the housing society within three months of nomination.
How many committee members are needed in a society?
Each committee has at least three members – president, secretary, and treasurer. Additional members depend on the number of units in the community. In addition, every committee must have at least one woman. Since there is no ban on re-election, MC members often have a very long tenure. Read our articles to learn more about the importance of a management committee and their roles and responsibilities. You can also learn about the Code of Conduct for Management Committee Members of a Housing Society.
Process of holding housing society elections
As per the Cooperative Societies Act, the election process should ideally start about two months before the existing MC’s term ends. The existing MC issues a notice about the expiry while inviting other members to file nominations for the next election.
The committee is responsible for compiling a list of members who are eligible to cast a vote. The list must be posted on the notice board at least 60 days before the polls. Ideally, the committee should also appoint a Returning Officer to oversee the elections. The Returning Officer is a neutral party and is widely considered as highly trustworthy.
Lastly, it should be kept in mind that many of these provisions are subject to state laws and community bye-laws.
Leveraging ApnaComplex to hold housing society elections
Information is an important tool in any election. For free and fair elections, it is important that all members are aware of the society’s bye-laws and their rights. Another key requirement is the process of regularly informing all members about the election updates.
ApnaComplex makes this easy through the following tools:
- Community Wiki is a repository of important information, including society bye-laws.
- Create and publish relevant articles on polling rules on Community Wiki.
- Sharing useful contact information about candidates and the Returning Officer.
- Share key dates and other information through the online Notice Board.
- Create Surveys and Polls to understand issues of concern among residents.
- Create special groups to initiate discussions or coordinate an election task force
- Access past discussions on elections.
- Access any expenses incurred during past elections.
If you want to learn more about ApnaComplex, get in touch with us at support@apnacomplex or call 80886 11229. Our team will help you understand the various features you can use to communicate and connect with residents.