The Maharashtra government Tuesday used a constitutional provision to surmount approval of the Legislative Council for two controversial legislations relating to the crucial cooperatives sector.
Keen to dent the influence that cooperative barons affiliated to the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party have over the sector, the Devendra Fadnavis government had introduced two bills — one allows it to bar directors of mismanaged district cooperative banks from contesting for re-election and another permits it to appoint two government nominees on cooperatives — in the state legislature.
While the BJP-led alliance used the majority it enjoys in the Lower House or the Legislative Assembly to approve these on March 15, 2016, and April 6, 2016, despite a strong objection from the Opposition parties, the bills got stuck in the Upper House where the Opposition still enjoys a majority. The impasse in the Upper House had forced the government to reintroduce these bills in the Assembly during the monsoon session in August. But there was no change, despite some backroom diplomacy by the ruling benches.
While the Assembly cleared these for the second time on August 5 and August 2, respectively, the bills failed to pass muster in the House of Elders once again.
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On Tuesday, bypassing the Legislative Council’s approval, the Maharashtra Cabinet, with recourse to Article 197 (2) (b) of the Constitution, deemed approval to convert these bills into laws.
According to sources, the chief minister had sought advice from the state’s law department in this regard. The law department has said Article 197(2) (b) provides for deemed approval of a bill that “had been passed for the second time by the Assembly and transmitted to the Legislative Council and where more than a month had elapsed from the date on which the bill was laid before the council without it being passed by it”.
On the basis of the department’s advice, the government obtained an approval from Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao to convert these bills into laws. The state cabinet Tuesday withdrew ordinances that the government had earlier promulgated in both cases after the new law was notified in the State Gazette a day earlier.
Former Maharashtra deputy chief minister and NCP MLA Ajit Pawar had slammed both the bills calling them “politically motivated”.
When the bill regarding the appointment of government’s nominees on cooperative societies was being discussed in the Lower House, he had even accused the government of “plotting the move for a backdoor entry to BJP politicos in the cooperative sector”. The Congress, too, had lambasted the move.
Incidentally, former BJP minister Eknath Khadse, too, had slammed the government’s policies in the cooperative sector when the other bill — the one barring directors of mismanaged district cooperative banks from seeking re-election — was being debated in the Lower House in August this year.
Top sources, meanwhile, pointed out that within days of the bills being transmitted for a second time to the council, the monsoon session ended.