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SC allows Odisha govt to hold cooperative polls

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Reported by Chinmaya Dehury

Bhubaneswar, Aug 15:

The Supreme Court has allowed the Odisha government to hold election for cooperative societies in time, said sources in the Cooperative department.

supreme court 1After hearing on the interim application of the Odisha government, the apex court has allowed holding of cooperative election in the state as per the 97th Constitutional Amendment.

It is to be noted that election has not been held for cooperative societies since the government dissolved the representative bodies in 2011. Later, the government had nominated members to the societies, which was challenged by the representative members in Odisha High Court. The court had asked the government to conduct elections to the societies, a ruling which was challenged in the Supreme Court by the government.

Meanwhile, the government has effected the 97th amendment. However, despite issuing a notification under the mandate of the 97th Constitutional Amendment for the conduct of elections within 18 months – starting January 30, 2013 – the process for the polls for the three-tier Cooperative bodies was never initiated.

In January 2013, the Odisha Co-operative Societies Act, 1962 was amended by the Odisha Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Act, 2012 to bring it in conformity with the Constitution (Ninety-Seventh Amendment) Act, 2011.

The Amendment Act contains a transitory provision under section 17 providing for a time period of six months within which the election to all Co-operative Societies shall be held from the date of commencement of the Amendment Act.

The Odisha Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Act, 2012 came into force on 30th January, 2013 and as such, the said period of six months for holding elections to the cooperative societies expired on July 31, 2013.

Later in August, 2013, the Cabinet had decided to postpone the election to co-operative bodies by a year precisely on the ground that the rules are yet to be finalised. While the government was supposed to hold polls for co-operatives by July 31, it did not adhere to the deadline citing the reason that the nod of the apex court is required for the election.

Meanwhile, the Odisha Cooperative Societies Rules, 1965 and the Odisha Cooperative Societies (Election to the Committees) Rules, 1992 were amended to facilitate the holding of elections to cooperative societies. However, the publication of the final rules was not possible as a case is pending in the matter in the Supreme Court since 2011.

With the Supreme Court now giving the go ahead, the decks are finally cleared for holding of the much delayed elections.