Candidates will get symbols and the voting will be conducted through secret ballot.
An independent society member, if appointed as a returning officer (RO), will have to undergo training at designated institutes.
Each contestant will have to be seconded by two members besides paying the deposit fees.
These are some of the latest reforms declared in the draft rules issued by the state cooperatives department for conducting elections in cooperative housing societies which have less than or up to 250 members.
A majority of around one lakh such housing societies in the state, 85% of them are in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region alone and are being run in the absence of duly-elected members.
“Either an RO can be appointed by the management committee (MC) from the independent panel of ROs formed by state cooperative elections authority, or a member who is not a seconder, auditor or existing committee member can be selected for the RO training. Also, the electoral roll will have to be ready 60 days prior to the election,” suggests the draft that makes the society election an elaborate well-crafted process.
Also, if there are 10 members in the fray for a seven-member MC and a voter has seven votes to cast, he can cast one vote to each and if needed can avoid casting a few votes if candidates are not up to his/her expectations.
Thus, indirectly, the members can avoid voting for the candidates whom they do not like which is nothing but akin to NOTA.
No canvassing can be made in or around the polling area and the draw of lots will decide the additional vote in case of a tie, the draft suggests.
Earlier, the elections were being held in a single general body meeting and the show of hands or voice vote were some of the methods adopted for electing the management committee members.
Now, the provisional list of voters will have to be ready before the appointment of the returning officer who will scrutinise it followed by the office of deputy registrar.
Nominations too will be verified at the level of RO as well as the deputy registrar (DR), the new draft rules suggest.
Interestingly, 30% of the total contesting candidates can come together to form a panel and get one symbol. The polling staff will be appointed by the RO to conduct the election process.
The members can also authorise the associate members such as wife in case of an individual owner or a board of director/manager in case of the company ownership to cast his/her vote in the election.
For this too, a due period will be given with proper process of verification. The draft has been kept open for suggestions and objections and after incorporating them, if any, the final draft will be issued so that societies can hold elections by March, said Arvind Kumar, additional chief secretary, government of Maharashtra.
Meanwhile, Ramesh Prabhu, chairman of the Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association, said the draft rules should have also specified as to how many casual or co-opted vacancies can be filled if members resign or die before the due period.
Also, the cooperatives department should have specified the number of members in the MCs to be elected for societies based on their total membership such as five-member MC for 50-member society or 10-member MC for 150-member society and so on, he pointed out.
Few members while reacting to the draft said any person who has been on the MC for more than 15 years should not be allowed to contest election.
Also, no person shall be allowed to be a member of MC for more than two continuous terms, they add.
Similarly, those members who are not residing in the society should not be allowed to contest elections as members who live in society know the problems better, they added while commenting on the draft which is expected to be finalised by mid-March.
However coop experts said such rules were non-feasible as they will then limit the scope of elections.