Vinod Sampat gave the audience invaluable practical tips to deal with CHS and legal issues
Leading expert on cooperative housing societies (CHS), advocate Vinod Sampat, offers a bunch of unusual, pragmatic and practical solutions to ordinary people to resolve a plethora of issues related to their home as well as transmission and inheritance of property. Addressing Moneylife Foundation members, Mr Sampat explained to a packed hall the complex and, often, badly drafted rules that govern CHS, allowing for multiple interpretations.
Most people are unfamiliar with the rules governing CHS and, since the managing committee also works on a voluntary basis, the interpretation of civic and legal compliances and powers vested in a small group of people leads to disputes and bitterness that can turn one’s hard-earned, dream home into a nightmare. How to handle it? The core of Mr Sampat’s talk was about being practical. On several common issues such as parking, use of terraces, conveyance and repair of common areas or dealing with leakage from another flat, he suggested discussion and friendly compromise. Only if this did not resolve the issue, did he advocate the next step—of filing a complaint with appropriate authorities or approaching a consumer or cooperative court for redress. In many cases, he suggested the use of Right to Information (RTI) to get data from the municipal corporation and, in the rare case, going to the police.
“In several cases regarding cooperative housing society issues, consumer courts have given most effective decisions,” provided the case is properly presented, he said. On the vexed issue of deemed conveyance, Mr Sampat again had practical tips. He asked people to start collecting the documents first. Use RTI to get society plans if they were not available; take steps to get a property card and ensure that it was in the name of the housing society and then work at other documents required for deemed conveyance, was his advice.
As per the provisions of Section 11 of the Maharashtra Ownerships Flats Act (MOFA), the promoter is duty-bound to give a clear title and convey it to the organisation of persons who had bought the flat (i.e., CHS, home-buyer, apartment owner, etc). It is also the duty of the promoter to file a copy of the conveyance with the flat purchasers and the competent authority under Section 11(2).
Talking about oppression of certain members by the management committee, usually those who ask uncomfortable questions or object to the misuse of powers, advocate Sampat’s suggestion was to use technology to create irrefutable evidence. He said, “Use video recording to document each meeting.” These days, most smart phones have good video recording facilities that are simple to use.
A large number of queries at the seminar pertained to nomination and transmission. While Mr Sampat explained the rules, he said, it is best to make a Will so that there is no ambiguity about how a person wants his assets transmitted after his demise. In many tricky family disputes on how to share an asset, Mr Sampat said that it is best to work at an amicable solution and compromise, since the alternative was to be stuck with long and expensive court cases.
Advocate Sampat further spoke on conveyance and re-development. “Unfortunately, the real estate sector is unregulated, and few people have knowledge about its various laws. And even fewer can stand up to the powerful builders’ lobby,” he added.
The Campa Cola episode shows that cooperative housing societies must exercise due caution, when it comes to maintaining and ensuring that their buildings comply with the law.
A Blot on Government’s Tech-savvy Image
India’s ham-handed bureaucracy gave us a sharp reminder about how much things have to change before government catches up with a rapidly changing world, when it ordered a blanket ban on 32 global sites on 31st December. Clearly, having a technology and social-media-savvy prime minister is not enough; it will take a long time before Narendra Modi can get government officials to move away from the ‘block, ban, censor’ (BBC) mindset, to use Modi-like acronyms. Last year, the UPA government had blocked 200 sites on a single day and had to backtrack hurriedly when it led to a huge uproar.
This time was no different. The 32 sites were blocked under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act. The ban was apparently based on inputs from security agencies that someone had uploaded ‘suspected ISIS’ content on them. Following the advisory, the government ordered Internet-service providers (ISPs) to ‘immediately block access’ to the sites.
The list, which has been widely circulated in the media, included GitHub, Archive.org, Imgur, Vimeo, Daily Motion, sourceforge and Pastebin. There was no statement from the government about why the sites were blocked even a day later. Instead, Arvind Gupta, national head of BJP’s IT cell, had tweeted that the sites were blocked for carrying ‘objectionable content’ and those who ‘cooperate and remove ISIS content will be unblocked’. An advisory from the anti-terrorism squad had said that the sites carried anti-India content from ISIS (Islamic States of Iraq and Syria). However, there is nothing to indicate that any of the sites was approached to remove specific content or that the blanket ban was triggered by their refusal to ‘cooperate’.
Clearly the information technology ministry and the security agencies need to work out a plan of action on how to deal with security threats and a protocol to ensure cooperation to remove or trace the source of objectionable content or block individual accounts and urls, when national security is threatened. While there is a clear consensus that tracking terrorist activity is a global imperative, it is not fair to expect websites, or their users, to operate under the threat of sudden blanket bank.
In a modern world, where users, especially registered users, are free to post content and reviews, the government’s drastic action poses a huge and financially damaging business risk. What is worse, a day later, there was no indication that the government understood the enormity of the damage it had caused by its action. TechCrunch, a technology blog, calls GitHub an essential service to the tech industry. It says that blocking GitHub, code repository with millions of registered users, would lead to an uproar in the tech industry in India, given its importance to tech companies and coders. If the government can ban GitHub or Vimeo, which is a video streaming site like YouTube, there is nothing to stop mindless government officials from issuing similar orders against global giants of the tech world.