The Bombay High Court (HC) imposed a cost of Rs3 lakh on the former secretary of a suburban housing society who was disqualified from contesting elections for a period of five years for failing to call an annual general meeting (AGM) for 2017-18 and 2018-19, as prescribed under the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act (MCS), 1960. The petition filed by Chintamani Pandey – former secretary of Paras Nagar CHS Ltd – was dismissed.
Pandey was dismissed after failing to hold AGMs
On March 3, 2022, the deputy registrar of cooperative societies, D/E-Ward, disqualified Pandey as in the capacity as the secretary of the CHS, as he failed to hold the AGMs. He challenged this before the divisional joint registrar, which was dismissed in June 2022.
For default, the registrar initially issued a show cause notice and then disqualified Pandey and the other office bearers from contesting the society elections for five years. Pandey then filed a written submission stating that the inspection officer had not verified the record of the society, which would have revealed that the AGMs were conducted. An inspection on July 14, 2021, revealed that no AGMs were held for the two years, nor was there an explanation for this.
No acceptable or reasonable explanation: HC on secy not holding AGMs
The HC took note that the treasurer of the society had sent a communication to the deputy registrar stating that the managing committee had called for an AGM in October 2018 and for the following year, it was called on September 29, 2019. However, the secretary had to rush to his native place on September 27 as his father expired and the other members did not hold the AGM.
“The fact remains that for whatever reasons the AGM for the two years was not held and no acceptable or reasonable explanation was furnished,” the HC observed, adding that the law and society hold “such lapses quite seriously”, that too in the case of a large CHS having 137 members.
Interestingly, a day after the HC passed an interim order, Pandey and one Pankaj Pandey entered the society's office at night and this was captured by the CCTV cameras, the footage of which was produced before the HC.
Frivolous petition, wasted precious judicial time: HC
Dismissing Pandey's petition, the HC said, “It needs to be noted that during the course of hearing of this petition, several anomalies including the suppression of documents, as also such glaring conduct of the petitioner was discussed… including the fact that the eagerness of the petitioner to contest the election was not a matter of legal right as such a right is conferred by law.”
The HC dismissed the “frivolous petition” observing that it was not only a “classic case of an abuse of the process of law”, but also wasted “precious judicial time”. It imposed a cost of Rs3 lakh on Pandey and the amount has to be deposited with the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority within four weeks.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)