Cannot Discriminate on Food, Religion, Minister Attacks Housing Corporations | Bombay News

Mumbai The state government has attacked housing companies, which use No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to dictate terms to apartment owners on who to sell or rent their apartments.

Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad tweeted on Monday: “If the landlord wants to rent his flat or sell his flat, he doesn’t need NOC from the company…it increases the hate.

His tweet came after the issue of housing companies using NOCs to prevent people of certain religions or communities from taking up apartments came to his attention. This is prevalent in the state despite Maharashtra’s Cooperative Societies Act.

Speaking to the media, Awhad said some housing companies are promoting the culture of “ghettoization”. “These societies create ghettos. They pressure their members and force them not to sell or rent to minorities, non-vegetarians or backward class people. They are threatening to detain NOC if they disobey the dictate,” Awhad lamented.

The Marathi Ekikaram Samiti (MES) is busy gathering information through various sources on these authoritarian tactics adopted by both corporations and builders. “We are going to expose these companies and put them on the book,” MES chief Govardhan Deshmukh said.

Last October, Deshmukh filed a First Information Report (FIR), the first of its kind against a man who refused to sell his apartment to a Maharashtrian buyer. An apartment owner had posted an ad on Facebook saying he wanted to sell his 1-BHK (bedroom-hall-kitchen) apartment in a building that only accommodates members of the Gujarati, Jain and Marwadi communities.

Deshmukh, who wanted to buy the apartment, filed a complaint with Mira Road Police for harm, following which an FIR was filed against the owner of the apartment under CIP Section 153A ( promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts detrimental to the maintenance of harmony).

Lawyer Siddharth Hattarkar, who specializes in cooperative housing society issues, said the regulations are very clear on that front. “The company’s ‘No Objection Certificate’ is not required to transfer shares and interests from the transferor to the transferee. However, in the event that such a certificate is required by the transferor or the transferee, he must apply to the company and the committee of the company may consider this request on the merits, within a period of one month”, a- he declared.

He further added, “Society cannot force anyone to take their NOC. They have to issue it if the buyer or the seller wants it. However, now corporations are dictating terms illegally.

He also quoted Section 23 of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act 1960, “No society shall, without sufficient cause, refuse admission as a member to any person duly qualified under the provisions of this law and its statutes”.

In simpler terms, he said a company can only refuse if said buyer is an anti-social element, convicted of crimes or involved in terrorist activity.

This problem has its roots in the housing boom of the 1980s, when community-specific construction projects proliferated in Parel, Lalbaug, Ghatkopar, Goregaon, Mulund, Vile Parle, Malabar Hill, Byculla, Mazagaon and Borivli. In the case of the Jain community, the builder would build a ‘Derasar’ or a Jain temple and charge high prices for such projects.

In the last two days there have been posts on social media about how apartment owners or housing companies have announced that apartments will be rented out to vegetarians only. This is common in areas such as Borivali, Malad, Goregaon, Ghatkopar and Mulund except for several pockets in central and south Mumbai where people from particular communities live in large numbers. In many cases, renting apartments to Muslims, singles or non-vegetarians is not preferred.


    Naresh has been a special correspondent for the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, since 2005. He covers the property sector, in addition to political reporting.
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Minnie J. Leonard