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MPS RAMANI (Scientist/Engineer)     20 October 2021

Transfer of rights of a deceased member in a co-operative ho

There are many laws which deal with the question of transfer of the estate of a deceased member. The Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960 is one of them. Until the amendment to the Act in 2019 the interests of a deceased member in the capital and property of the Society was to be transferred to the nominee under Section 30 of the Act. The Maharashtra Act is 61 years old. Actually the Maharashtra Act only succeeded a previous Bombay Act, which also had a similar nominee clause. During all these more than 60 years many members have died and the property smoothly transferred to nominees. Such transfers have also happened to nominees’ nominees through several generations. Recently the question has arisen about the rights of the nominee and the rights of the nominee vs. that of the legal heir. The Supreme Court judgment in the Indirani Wahi case of West Bengal gives good guidance. It says in the event of death of a member let the Society transfer the rights to the nominee and deal with the nominee turned member thereafter. If the real legal heir succeeds in due course, the Society can start dealing with him/her thereafter. But the Tuglaks of Maharashtra were not happy. They have thrown a spanner between the Society and the successor to the deceased member. On the death of a member the Society has at first search for the legal heir. The legal heir is one who has a will in his favor or obtained succession certificate or has right through family arrangement. If the claimant produces a will in his favor, the Society cannot transfer the property right away to him. In Mumbai he has to obtain a probate on the will. Obtaining a probate can take years. Until then transfer cannot be effected and the prospective member cannot be asked to pay the dues to the Society. Obtaining a succession certificate in the absence of a will can be even more cumbersome. There are many societies run by corrupt managing committee members and transfer of flats either on succession or on sale is a source of corruption. Until the 2019 amendment, the task of a nominee, if there was a nomination was simple. He needed only application to the Registrar, who had the powers to order the committee to admit the nominee as a member.  

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