While refuting allegations that the Maharashtra government extended the tenure of managing committees of cooperative societies, as most were headed by Congress and NCP loyalists, but appointed administrators in majority of the gram panchayats, as they were headed by persons affiliated with BJP, the state on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that the contentions were misplaced.
A division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice R I Chagla was hearing a writ plea filed by 72-year-old agriculturist Arun Yashwant Kulkarni, also a member of a cooperative society at Tasgaon in Sangli, challenging a June 17 order and a July 10 Ordinance issued by the Maharashtra government.
It had postponed elections to the cooperative societies, including housing societies, district central cooperative banks and sugar factories and gave an extension of three months to the managing committees of the societies.
The petition, filed through advocate Satish B Talekar, stated that administrators should also be appointed for cooperative societies, as the term of their managing committees had ended and the law did not have any provision for the extension of the same.
Stating that the decisions taken by the government were not “politically motivated”, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni submitted that while the gram panchayats were “democratically elected constitutional bodies”, the managing committees of cooperative societies were independent voluntary bodies and hence, the state had very little powers to enforce its jurisdiction on them. Therefore, the decision of extending the tenure of the managing committees was valid as was appointing administrators for gram panchayats, the affidavit filed by the state said, adding that the nature of the two institutions is incomparable.
The affidavit filed by Ramesh Shingte, undersecretary of the cooperation department, seeking dismissal of the plea, stated: “I hereby deny the allegation that the decision to continue the existing members of the committee till new committee is duly constituted is taken with an oblique motive since majority of the cooperative societies are controlled by NCP and Congress, as against the majority of gram panchayats are controlled by BJP… the same being made without any basis.”
After hearing the submissions, the court granted liberty to the petitioner to amend the plea and posted further hearing for October 15.
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