By Y. P.Patil
Present day meetings of various institutions is a legacy of British People. It was since the British Rule was established, various Acts such as Societies Registration Act 1860, Public Trusts Act etc., and other institutional Acts were enacted. These Acts regulated and business, management and administration of various institutions, may be educational, professional, industrial, charitable or religious.
I am now referring in general to all the above institutions and specifically to the Co-oeprative Institutions in our State. We are living in Democratic state and the co-operative society is a mini example of a mini democratic set up. The acts have been framed to administer the management of such institutions.
“Meeting” is a the soul of “Democracy” and no doubt where there is a Democratic governance’s of institutions, “meetings” are a must. However, so far “Law of Meeting” is not yet enacted and therefore whatever is understood and followed is a conventional knowledge. As I said earlier that meeting which is a legacy of British Raj, the meetings are also held in conventional way. Some institutions do frame rules for meetings.
Any such institutions which is registered under various Acts have to hold meetings and take vital decisions affecting the administration of the institution.
It becomes imperative to hold a meeting of members especially at least once a year to decide many matters of Administration of the respective institutions. It is a legal necessity for the Managing committee to hold Annual General Meeting of all the members of the institution who have a right to participate and express their opinions and vote in the meeting, by giving advance NOTICE to the members.
In such Annual General Meetings normally the following are the items on agenda.
1) To read and confirm the minutes of the last Annual General Meeting (if it is not a first meeting)
2) To approve the “Report” of the Managing Committee on the working of the year and approve the “Accounts” i.e. Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Account of the previous year.
3) Top approve the recommendation of the Managing Committee in respect of distribution of profit and dividend etc.
4) To discuss and take not of the report of the Internal Auditor of the audit carried by him of the previous financial year.
5) To discuss and to take note of the report of Statutory Auditor on the working of the institution.
6) To appoint Internal Auditor for the coming year and to determine his Honorarium.
7) To approve the proposed amendment to Byelaws (if any).
8) To discuss any other matter with the permission of the Chair.
It is may experience that with some exceptions, the above matter except the last one are discussed and approved without much ad.
It will be observed that always the word “Notice” is used while convening the Annual General Meeting or any other meeting for the purpose. The other words like “Invitation”, “Request”, “Appeal” etc. are not used. The word “Notice” has a great legal significance as in a democratic set up when you need the approval of the members for any subject or item on agenda, you have to “notify” in advance the members about it. The word “Notice” means it is a caution or a warning or a suggestion or information to the members to read and think over the matters which are notified to them and they are to express their opinion in the meeting on the “matters” which are notified. It is a basic and fundamental right of a members to know what is going to be approved or disapproved by them in the Annual General Meeting. The decision taken in the Annual General Meeting are having far fetched effects on the working and administration of the institution. Many institution prepare a budget for the next year and get the same approved in the meeting. A special arrangement is made first to see that there is no stoppage of or obstruction in the administration and management of an institution which has to run it’s the day-to-day affairs connected with the aims and objects of the institutions and therefore the Annual meeting has to proceeds inspite of the fact that fact that there be a quorum or not at the appointed time. Thus the meeting is adjourned to a further period possibly, on the same date and at the same venue and the work of the meeting goes on with whatever number of members then present who form a quorum.
A member of the institution as I have said earlier has a right to get notified about the matters which are placed or tabled in the meeting for their decision. It is, therefore, in consonance with the principles of democracy that “no matter should be placed for approval of members by the management without notice”.
However, for keeping or deciding the matters which are not notified, there is limitation. The limitation is that “any matter which may arise after the issuance of the notice and before the beginning of the meeting”, the managing Committee, if it thinks fit and property and also necessary to get the matter or a proposal approved by the general body meeting, has to table it in the house and such a matter can be included in this last item on the agenda i.e. “any other matter with the permission of the Chair”. Other matters if they are to be reported or notified to the Managing Committee, (as per the note given) some days earlier, prior to the holding of the meeting and the notice of Annual General Meeting contains such a note or instructions by which the members are allowed to proposed any resolution, which they wish to get it approved or any suggestion which they want to suggest in respect of the administration or working of the institution. Only such matters can be tabled and discussed when the last item on the agenda is announced.
The Chairman or the person presiding over the meeting should have a prior consultation with the Managing committee on the propositions or suggestions received as per the instruction or not, given in the notice of Annual General Meeting.
However, if Managing Committee or the person presiding the meeting feels that such a proposal or any suggestion or any resolution which they feel that it is not legal or necessary to be placed before the meeting, he can deny to table such a proposal, or suggestion before the meeting by giving his ruling.
These are the limitations as far as the last item of the Agenda is concerned, however, many people misconstrue the proviso and allow the members, indiscriminately to putup the matters before the General Body Meeting which are not notified that creates chaos, indiscipline unruliness in the meeting and sometimes the decorum of the meeting is lost. The conventions expect discipline in the meetings. The “Meeting” is the soul of “democracy” and as such it is necessary and in the interest of every Member, the Managing Committee and the Presiding Officer to observe this convention, strictly and avoid unruliness, chaos, indiscipline in the meeting. By observing this convention one can expect healthy democracy in the running of the institutions, which is also important for the democracy in the nation.
I, therefore, feel that this particular aspect of the Annual General Meeting of non-governmental organisations (NGO) should follow the noble convention.