In the clash between the provisions of the UP Apartment Act, 2010, and the imposition of Section 144 CrPC on the district, the AOAs and RWAs of Ghaziabad have been left in a quandary over holding society elections.
Section 144 prohibits the assembly of more than four people in an area. It was imposed on the district by the district magistrate (DM) from December 25 to February 15 in view of the forthcoming state polls.
On December 26, two AOA members of River Heights, in Raj Nagar Extension, were arrested for conducting society elections at a time when Section 144 was in effect.
Before the dust could settle, trouble started at Shipra Riviera in Indirapuram. It was to conduct elections in late January, and so the electoral process was kickstarted from December 27. The filing of nominations was over, and the names of the winners were to be declared. But the entire process came to a standstill by the evening of January 5, as a group of residents protested against the election process, and local police had to intervene. The election officer of the society had to postpone the polls to after February 15 and provide a written undertaking to the police.
Both the incidents have brought forth strong reactions from the AOAs, which dubbed the involvement of police and administration in society matters unfair and illogical.
When City Spidey spoke to the election officer appointed at Angel Mercury in Indirapuram, he said, “We don’t know what to do! We are already under pressure, as according to the UP Apartment Act, 2010, the AOA cannot carry on its duties after ending its term."
He added that the only way out was the extension of the term, which could happen with the approval of the deputy registrar.
Forced into a Catch 22 situation, the AOA members of Angel Mercury approached GDA with a request to intervene.
Alok Kumar, founder of FedAOA, opined, “Implementing the UP Apartment Act, 2010, is difficult as it is, as many AOA members, who want to misuse powers, do not want to come under its purview.”
"Once the AOA body becomes defunct, it has to report to various government agencies, such as the deputy registrar’s office, GDA and the district administration. Matters can also be taken to the High Court, as it happened for Jaipuria Sunrise Greens, where residents approached the court after they were denied extension of the AOA's term," explained Kumar.
Speaking about the subject, Nidhi Kesarwani, DM of Ghaziabad, maintained that conducting elections in private residential societies did not violate the provisions of Section 144.
However, she added that society elections were generally barred as a precautionary measure, as participants might be associated with major political parties and might push their personal political agenda through society elections.
The DM clarified that AOAs could conduct elections after receiving permission from the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM).
AOA members, though, are not happy with the response, as the SDM could refuse granting permission citing various reasons.
So, amid all this confusion, the question remains: "To conduct or not to conduct?"