By: Vivek Gupta
In his latest orders, Deputy Commissioner S B Deepak Kumar has directed all the presidents and secretaries of co-operative societies, whose elections were held between January 2013 and March 2014, to immediately conduct fresh elections of their elected management bodies as per the 97th Amendment Act for the cooperative sector.
The city has nearly 125 cooperative group housing societies, besides several co-operative banks.
Earlier, these societies had a maximum of seven elected members with fresh elections held every year. But the said amendment necessitated every co-operative society to have a maximum of 21 elected members with a tenure of five years. Further, reservation of one seat for Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe and two seats for women was made mandatory in every elected body.
However, previous DC Mohammad Shayin did not comply with these norms while adopting the 97th Amendment Act. He issued a notification, dated December 8, 2014, whereby the term of all the elected management committees of local co-operative societies was extended for five years with effect from January 2013 but without increasing the strength of elected members and proper reservation policy, which was not possible without fresh elections.
The secretary (co-operation) in March directed him to withdraw this notification and asked for fresh elections after the matter went to the Punjab and Haryana High Court following a public interest litigation filed by city-based advocate R D Anand.
After not complying with the directions, the high court on April 21 summoned DC Shayin to appear before the court on May 5 to explain why he did not withdraw the notification.
Since Shayin was recently repatriated, Deepak Kumar appeared in the high court on Tuesday and told the court that the said notification had been withdrawn and fresh elections with proper rules had already been ordered.
Kumar told Newsline that as per the fresh orders, all the presidents and secretaries of all the co-operative societies had been directed to get the elections conducted afresh as per the 97th Amendment Act and submit their schedule at the earliest to the department of co-operative societies.
Petitioner Anand said that the group housing societies and numerous other societies in banking and agriculture sector were bound to conduct fresh elections as per the latest orders.
He said that the 97th Amendment Act came up after due realisation of the fact that interference from the government and widespread politicisation were eroding the autonomy of cooperatives.
“As the administration now aspires to follow these amendments in true spirit, we can also expect better democratic control and professional management of cooperative societies,” he said.
As per sources, the directions have also been issued to the Chandigarh State Co-operative Bank, Manimajra Co-operative Marketing-cum-Processing Society and Chandigarh State Federation Cooperative House Building Society, besides cooperative societies.