Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Feb 27:
The Odisha High Court on Monday served notices to state government over Registrar of cooperative societies’ powers on determining the voting rights of its members following which polls could not be held in over 400 societies and nearly 10 per cent polling was witnessed in cooperative bodies.
Challenging the state government’s decision to bestow extra powers to Registrar of co-operative societies, a petition was filed in the High Court.
Adjudicating the case, a division bench comprising former Odisha High Court Chief Justice Amitava Roy and Justice Dr AK Rath served notices to state chief secretary, cooperative department secretary, cooperative society Registrar and state cooperative society commissioner.
A petition filed by a member, Satyanarayan Samantasinghar, of Sahupada service cooperative society (SCS) under Kanas area in Puri district alleged that with the entrusting of extra powers to the Registrar of co-operative societies, polling in as many as 416 cooperative bodies could not be held and almost 10 percent voting was seen in cooperative bodies.
According to the petitioner, Registrar of co-operative societies have been delegated extra powers to identify and ascertain the eligibility of a voter under section 19 (2) of the Odisha Cooperative Society Act 1962 after amending the said Act on 31/12/2006, which is unconstitutional.
Prior to the amendment, the members of the cooperative societies were eligible for casting vote in the societies’ elections. The entrusting of powers to the Registrar of co-operative societies to determine the eligibility criteria of the voters violates the Sec 19 (1)(C) and 300 (A) of the constitution, the petition said.
The Registrar of co-operative societies, in its notification issued on 17/09/2010, said that cooperative societies’ members in the state are eligible for voting provided they have a minimum deposit of Rs 2000 against their names for at least six months at the time of election notification for election to primary cooperative societies, secondary cooperative societies and farmers cooperative societies among others. Similarly, a minimum deposit of Rs 1000 for at least six month was the eligibility criteria fixed for LAMPCS.
The Registrar of co-operative societies again issued a notification on 26/03/2012 and lowered the deposit amount to Rs 500 and Rs 100 in the above categories respectively.
However, the two notifications were not intimated the cooperative societies leading to confusion over eligibility criteria of the voters which affected the turnout in the elections, the petitioner alleged.