FPJ Impact: Mumbai Housing Society Residents Protest At Azad Maidan To Fight Against ‘High Level Of Corruption’ From Registrar

FPJ Impact: Mumbai Housing Society Residents Protest At Azad Maidan To Fight Against ‘High Level Of Corruption’ From Registrar

The residents’ main contention was that society matters and complaints were not being resolved in a fair and timely manner.

Draupadi RoheraUpdated: Tuesday, November 28, 2023, 09:28 PM IST
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Representational photo | Pixabay

Dr Leena Gangolli, a practising medical professional, has been fighting the managing committee of her Talmaki Wadi Co-operative Housing Society in Tardeo over recovery of ‘incorrectly billed dues’ for the past three years. The registrar of societies was of no help. So she moved the court.

“It was an upstream struggle, until today, when my mother forwarded me an online report that appeared in the E-Paper of The Free Press Journal that said that members of 50 societies were going to protest against the cooperative housing societies’ registrar at Azad Maidan. I immediately left everything that I was doing and rushed to participate in the protest at Azad Maidan. What a relief this has been. For once I feel there is hope and strength in fighting the registrar collectively,” she says.

Protesters sign petition addressed to minister Dilip Walse-Patil

Like her, several members of different societies from across Mumbai showed up at the protest venue, Azad Maidan, to connect and share their individual experiences of corruption, inaction and malpractices in the registrar’s department. They signed a petition addressed to Minister for Cooperation Dilip Walse-Patil calling for urgent intervention in the matter. An exclusive citizens’ durbar with Walse-Patil is what they are seeking for prompt redressal of their grievances. “We want him to take appropriate action against the deputy registrars. In fact the entire department needs to be streamlined and overhauled in the interest of citizens,” KVJ Rao, an aviation expert who participated in the protest, told The Free Press Journal.

The residents’ main contention was that society matters and complaints were not being resolved in a fair and timely manner. “Deputy registrars are just sitting on complaints and not initiating action within a proper time frame as stipulated by law. Moreover, there is no accountability or transparency in the execution of their administrative duties… they sit on files and seek gratuities to pass orders,” Rao said.

Petition demands timely conclusion of complaints

The petition said that most complainants of cooperative housing societies were forced to file complaints in cooperative courts or high courts only because these “quasi judicial authorities are protecting and shielding the offenders by violating laws, GR and circulars and executing partial activity in the performance of their duties”. The petition demanded timely conclusion of the complaints within three months.

Most complaints that come before the registrar range from managing committee members siphoning off money, taking arbitrary decisions in redevelopment matters, no AGMs, non-circulation of minutes and no transparency in administration, Rao alleged.

'High level of corruption'

“There is high level of corruption in the cooperation department,” Shailesh Sansare, another participant from Tapovan Deep Cooperative Housing Society, Malad, alleged. He said that there were more than 45,000 to 50,000 cooperative housing societies in Mumbai,

and that there was not a single platform where ordinary citizens and irate housing society members could air their grievances. “Where does one go when the registrar and his deputies operate like powers that be with no accountability? It’s frustrating,” he said.

According to Rao, Tuesday’s protest could well be the beginning of a new movement. “It’s a huge problem and there are many people who are angry with the manner in which theses quasi judicial bodies operate. I think this protest will galvanise more people and will gain momentum in the coming months because there is an urgent and pressing need for this.”

Rao maintained that awareness was fast gaining ground. “So many people have participated voluntarily after reading The Free Press Journal report… almost like they were looking out for a forum or platform where loosely connected citizens could come together to fight a collective battle,” he said.

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