Supreme Court Bar Association Housing Society elections

Delhi High Court: A petition was filed seeking direction for the dissolution of the Board of the Supreme Court Bar Association Multi State Co-operative Group Housing Society Ltd. (‘SCBA-Housing Society’) and direct the respondents as well as the Central Registrar to organize a fresh election to form a new Board of the SCBA Housing Society (MULTISTATE). A division bench of V. Kameswar Rao, and Anoop Kumar Mendiratta, JJ., directed to conduct fresh elections and that the existing BoD is required to maintain proper accounts regarding receipts and expenditure of the respondent 1 society and which in any case is subject to audit, no restraint order or order regarding appointment of the Administrator need to be passed.

The petitioner 1, an Advocate on Record of the Supreme Court of India and a member of the Supreme Court Bar Association (‘SCBA’) (respondent 2) is also the original member and resident of the ‘Supreme Towers Apartments Owners Association’ which was developed by the ‘SCBA-Housing Society’ (respondent 1). The SCBA-Housing Society was constituted by the SCBA in the year 2005 to provide residential accommodation to its members and efforts were made to develop a housing complex named ‘Supreme Towers’. The petitioner was seeking dissolution of the present Board of Management of respondent 1 and direction to the respondents including the Central Registrar, to conduct fresh elections to form a new Board of Management for SCBA-Housing Society.

SCBA Housing Society is registered under the Multi-State Cooperative Society Act, 2002 and in the year 2016, the Association was formed being run by an elected body. The last election was held on 16-02-2018 and the tenure of the office bearers of SCBA Housing Society is five years, as a corollary, the next selection was supposed to be held on 16-02-2023. The construction work of Supreme Towers was completed in 2015 and thereafter, flats were allotted to the members of SCBA in August, 2015, who took over the possession of their respective flats. The SCBA Housing society allotted 675 flats out of 684 flats to its members and 09 flats are yet to be allotted/sold. It is stated that the SCBA Housing Society was left with ₹ 6 crores after completion of the Supreme Towers in 2015. However, it has allegedly transferred ₹ 1 crore to the Association and kept the balance amount of ₹ 5 crores with itself.

It is the case of petitioner 1 that the present Board of Management of SCBA Housing Society has neither circulated any audited balance sheet amongst its members nor presented it to the AGM for its consideration or approval. It was further stated that the term of the present Board of Management of the SCBA Housing Society expired on 16-02-2023 and until today, no efforts have been made either by SCBA Housing Society or SCBA, to conduct fresh elections to constitute a new Board of Management of respondent 1. It was also the case of petitioner 1 that since the term of the present Board of Management has expired, fresh elections are required to be called to constitute the new Board of Management to get, the account of the respondent 1 society audited and refund of the surplus money lying in the account of the SCBA Housing Society to its members.

The Court noted that the parties being at ad idem, that the tenure of the BoD has already expired and the fresh elections need to be held. On the aspect of whether given the provisions of the Amended Act, specifically, Section 45 of the Amended Act, can the Court give a direction, de hors the provisions of the Amended Act, for the conduct of the fresh elections, the Court further noted that given the provisions as existing, at the time when the fresh elections became due, specifically, in terms of Section 45(6) of the Act of 2002, it was incumbent upon the Central Registrar, to hold the fresh elections within a period of 90-days from the date when such elections became due. Also, given the Amendment Act, the elections need to be held by CEA, which is to be established by the Central Government.

The Court suggested that CEA must be established by the Central Government, in view of statutory provision on or before 24-11-2023, then it shall hold the elections of the SCBA Housing Society within four weeks from the date of its establishment. If in the eventuality, CEA is not established within three weeks from the date of order, then the Court appoints Justice S.N. Dhingra, a Former Judge of this Court, as the Returning Officer to conduct the elections of the BoD of the SCBA Housing Society.

The Court further directed that the Secretary of SCBA Housing Society shall handover all the relevant records pertaining to SCBA Housing Society to Justice S.N. Dhingra (Retd.)/Central Registrar, for the smooth conduct of the elections. Justice S.N. Dhingra (Retd.) shall be paid an amount of ₹ 2 lacs, for conducting the elections, by SCBA Housing Society. Any expenses, incurred by Justice S.N. Dhingra (Retd.) for the conduct of the elections, shall be borne by SCBA Housing Society, as per actuals.

[Sadhana Sandhu v Supreme Court Bar Association Multi State Cooperative Group Housing Society Limited, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 7041, decided on 03-11-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Ms. Shashi Kiran, Ms. Kumud Lata Das, Mohd. Usman Siddiqui, Ms. Aisha Siddiqui, Mr. Harsh, Ms. Pooja and Mr. Pankaj, Advs. with Ms. Sadhana Sandhu, P-1 in person Mr. Deepak Tyagi, Adv. for P-2

Mr. Shree Prakash Sinha, Mr. Rakesh Mishra, Mr. Parv Garg, Ms. Sheetam and Mr. Rishabh Kumar, Advs. for R1 Dr. Adish C. Aggarwala, Sr. Adv. with Mrs. Ygandhara Pawar Jha and Mr. Vibhu Shankar Mishra, Advs. For R-2/SCBA Mr. Anurag Ahluwalia, CGSC with Ms. Avshreya Pratap Singh Rudy, Adv. for R-3/UOI Mr. Vibhu Shanker Mishra, Adv./ Board of Directors

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