“This is really fast ” said Mr Pandit ( name changed ) one of the resident owners. He was commenting on my impatience with the speed of prosecution. I have currently taken up a big battle to unmask massive corruption in my residential society. Distt Deputy Registrar ( DDR) and Deputy Registrar of society Pune City for societies are exchanging letters to bring the corrupt to the book. He further elaborated – ” The first step here should be to totally insulate them; take away their right to spend our hard earned money. ”. I had been following up with Registrar of societies ( RoS ) for last 3 months and now the formal investigation on grounds of financial crime is about to begin. The office bearers in our society office had illegally done spending of our maintenance fund without General body approval. Read the original story here
Why should this concern all of us ?
We all probably live in or will be living in residential societies where corruption /misappropriation/ can occur. A typical residential society of 400 apartments can have a fund of 1 crore+. The so called volunteers to selflessly serve the society can have their morals taking long vacation when they smell so much money. This may lead to huge leakage of your cash and dilapidated state of your residential society. Either you can accept that corruption citing various reasons ( from lack of time, awareness, intent or chalta hai etc) or will have an urge to fight this disease. Its when you decide to fight, will need to know how to proceed. The path to justice is long and torturous. The officers who tried to prosecute Laloo Yadav spent 17 yrs to send the scoundrel to jail. You may need to be mentally prepared to fight for months, if not years. I am already in my 4th month
How often is this kind of fight done ?
Very rarely. 99.9% of such cases of corruption either go unnoticed or people forget about it. Often they are too lazy to even confront the corrupt. The govt procedures of addressing these crimes is too slow and tests your patience and tenacity to extremes.
Why people do not raise voices ?
Its excruciating to fight against corrupt both at lower and higher levels. For example, if some scoundrel makes a backdoor entry into society office position, its very tedious to throw the him out. They have society funds to hire legal advisors, crook accountants and 5 to 6 partners in crime. You may have to initially hack it all relentlessly
Why is it difficult to throw scoundrels out ?
Most of the people in societies either are not aware about implications of corruption or take it as a part of their ordinary lives. They seldom rise against the corrupt. most believe, its somebody else’s job to fight corruption. Those who rise against corruption have to fight a machinery ( Administration, Sympathisers of corrupt, security employed and inertia of people ). The cases of illegal committees ( Folks who get into office without getting elected ) of society offices are not dislodged by Registrars any more. One has to go to Co Operative court to challenge that. Going to court means hiring a co operative lawyer and paying his fee. This is enough to give an ordinary citizen jitters. While the crusader has to pay legal charges from her own pocket, the scoundrels have war chest of maintenance fund at their disposal which they utilize to engage legal advisor, bribe civic officials, forge documents with help of corrupt chartered accountants and circulate false justification using society resources.
Alternate method of throwing illicit and corrupt committee out is by calling an Extra ordinary general meeting ( EOGM)expressing no confidence against the dishonest and corrupt.
Why EOGM method is a difficult thing ?
Calling an EOGM for no confidence requires written signature of 33 % of members ( As a norm only less than 25% of resident owners attend society meetings ). This means if you have 100 members in society and you want to throw the corrupt out , while you need 33 signatures, you can only reach out only 25 people. Often out of the 25 active members 10 to 12 may already be huddled in crime. Further, to boot the corrupt out, you need 2/3rd people voting them out. This means in a society of 100 apartments, you need 67 people voting out . Or if its permissible 2/3rd of attending members. This means if 25 attend the meeting you need 17 people to vote the corrupt out. If the committee comprises 10 members, mathematically , it may never happen. Its a scenario like no matter how much you hate Congress and its crimes you cant throw it out for 5 yrs because they manage the floor using Mayas, Mulayams, Karunanidhis and Sharad Pawars.
What is the way out ?
Society is like a cell of democracy and none of the provisions work unless there is large participation from all the owners. With 25% or less voting and participation, crooks invariably win . We, thus have the state of society like that of the nation where the ugliest crooks float to the top. Its important that there is large voting turn out ( >75% ) to select people . Also it must be ensured that only the members who are elected through voting become the office bearers. There needs to be an internal lokpal in all societies with power to suspend Chairmen/President/ Secretary/ Treasurer if there are sufficient grounds for dishonesty , corruption or procedural impropriety.
This is what I have done in my society till date in my fight against corruption :
Its been 3.5 months now since I first started it all. This is how the pieces on chessboard look like
- The accused still disgrace the office . Few or many steps away from check mate ( I do not know)
- The District Deputy Registrar has requested an eight point response ( In hard core Marathi even difficult for Marathi professor to understand ) for detailed inquiry to proceed. This moved some of my pieces into central square
- The evidences which justify detailed inquiry are ready with me.
- The thick skinned refuse to vacate the office. In professional chess, no player waits for the check mate. They resign when they have some irrecoverable disadvantage like a major piece loss or a vulnerability. However in real life, the shameless till they are driven out with force cling on. Fools die hard, crooks die harder
- A lot of paper crimes, dishonesty has been perpetrated example : showing an audit report on a date it didn’t exist. Falsifying the minutes of meeting of AGM, misusing office staff for personal service, etc. When people who are cheats get caught and are incriminated, they try to be even bigger cheats.
- As per Maharashtra Co op act, 15 clear days before AGM, the committee needs to circulate audited books of accounts to the members. The crooks in my society sent unaudited balance sheet and asked for approval for audited report which no one had seen. In layman’s term its like taking an approval of financial crimes without even you knowing that crime has happened
- The counter move from those seeking justice has been to submit a written request from over 30 residents to Dy Registrar that AGM held was illegal.
- Momentum often works against the weak. Approx 70% of people voting in AGM have given in writing that they want the corrupt to be dismissed.
- The partners in crime have gone into a huddle trying to delay the incrimination. Some stooges croak in between on trivial issues to divert attention from the main issue of corruption
- The society and its residents suffer as the apartments get the least resale and rental values in its area.
- The wheel of justice though slow, is moving in a right direction to ensure that guilty gets exemplary punishment.
If however you persist with right process there is always hope for justice : Watch Shawshank Redemption to understand it