Having more than two children? You cannot join housing society committee: Bombay High Court

The court determined that the “small family” rule, incorporated into the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960 through a 2019 amendment, applied in this instance.

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court recently affirmed a decision disqualifying a resident of Kandivali from serving on the managing committee of his housing society due to having more than two children. The court ruled that the “small family” rule, introduced in the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies (MCS) Act, 1960 through a 2019 amendment, applied in this instance.

The ‘small family’ rule prohibits individuals with more than two children from becoming members of a cooperative housing society’s managing committee.

A petition filed by Pawankumar Singh, a member of Charkop Kandivali Ekta Nagar Co-operative Housing Society, was dismissed by a single-judge bench of Justice Avinash Gharote. Singh had approached the high court after the Divisional Joint Registrar, Co-operative Societies, rejected his appeal on May 2 against a May 2023 order issued by the deputy registrar, which disqualified him from serving on his society’s managing committee.

After the society elections last year, Deepak Tejade and Ramachal Yadav filed a complaint with the Deputy Registrar, Western Suburbs, asserting that Singh was ineligible to serve on the managing committee due to having more than two children. They argued this contravened Section 154B-23 of the MCS Act.

Singh’s lawyer, Swapnil Bangur, argued that Section 154B(1) of the MCS Act explicitly exempts co-operative housing societies from the provisions outlined in Sections 154B-1 to 154B-31. Therefore, according to Bangur, the deputy registrar had no authority to declare Singh disqualified. Consequently, he contended that the complaint lodged by Tejade and Yadav should have been dismissed.

Advocate Uday Warunjikar, representing Yadav, argued that the applicable provisions indeed applied to housing societies, and Singh was rightfully disqualified.

Justice Gharote agreed with Warunjikar’s arguments, stating, ‘Section 154B-23 stands as an independent provision and operates autonomously, requiring the disqualification of a member if they have more than two children.

In dismissing the petition, the court ruled that the registration authorities disqualifying Singh from the managing committee “cannot be faulted for lack of jurisdiction.

The court also dismissed Singh’s argument that one of the three children, claimed by the complainants to be his because his name was added to his ration card, was not his own but was staying at his house for educational purposes. The court rejected this claim when Singh failed to provide the boy’s birth certificate.

Posted and reproduced in Public Interest by

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