Democracy and Autonomy in Maha CHS under Jeopardy

By I C Naik

If TOI report at Page 9 of its e-Paper 15 10 2016 is true, a Contempt proceedings are in the offing believe me, It is against a blatant abuse of the State Government’s power to issue orders to cooperative societies under Section 79A of the MCS Act 1960. Reportedly the state government has declared chairmen and secretaries of housing societies across the state as “booth-level volunteers” They will have to assist election officers during every election—(i) the gram panchayat, (ii) municipal (iii) council levels (iv) Legislative Assembly and (v) the Parliament.

The Officer issuing 79A order seem to be mistaken that these officers are on the Payroll of the State Government. Many will recall that a few years back the Government was compelled to scrap the M20 Bond of Indemnity fearing that the members of housing society will not come forward to assume the honourary duty of management of the Society.

M20 was merely a paper tiger at the most a money spinner for Stamp Office and still hue and cry for that also shook up the power that be. And now? They seem to think the Hon. Office bearers will meekly submit to the State Diktat having got M20 Bond squashed. Report quoted the officials: “Officials said the government wants to scale up voter turnout and take the help of those at the helm of housing societies.”

The Report goes on “They will now have to help the local electoral officer with the revision of the electoral rolls, ensure enrolment of members above 18 years of age, inform the election office if society members leave the society or if there is a death of a member for deletion of names from the electoral rolls. They will also have to attend two annual meetings with the local election officer, besides including the information in the Annual Audit Report. Societies have been directed to follow the guidelines issued by the BMC and to put up these posters in co-operative societies. The BMC has announced a cash prize for a housing society that sees the highest voter turnout.”

It is worth looking at the parameters for the State issues mandatory directives in the context of these objectives:

These are:

(i) the public interest

(ii) for the purposes of securing proper implementation of co-operative production and other development programs approved or undertaken by Government, or

(iii) to secure the proper management of the business of the society generally, or

(iv) for preventing the affairs of the society being conducted in a manner detrimental to the interests of the members or of the depositors or the creditors.

The Section provides that the directions are to be issued to any class of societies generally or to any society or societies in particular, the State Government may issue directions to them from time to time, and all societies or the societies concerned, as the case may be, shall be bound to comply with such directions.

Except for the purpose of Public interest no other purpose can be achieved by office bearers by assuming Booth volunteer’s role.

Government is for public and is installed or uninstalled by the public, that does not mean whatever it does is in public interest. The Society and its office bearers are two different entities and whatever order is issued under Section 79A bind all societies or the societies concerned, as the case may be, and not its office bearers as individuals.

After the Constitution (97th Amendment ) Act 2011 the Cooperative Societies have a Constitutional status and has also been endowed with the democratic control of its members and autonomy in functioning it is no longer a State property unless they are aided significantly with financial support in excess of 50% of its needs. This Hon. Supreme Court has said. Except for management of housing societies the office bearers are not supposed to go by any diktat of the Government.

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