The petition says amendment beyond the legislative powers of the Parliament.

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has asked the Attorney General of India and Union of India to file reply on a writ petition questioning the 97th amendment of the constitution, which is objected as ‘beyond the legislative powers of the Parliament’ and ‘will do harm to social integration and betterment of backward classes of citizens.’

The petitioners belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBC), Nomadic Tribes (NT), Special Backward Classes (SBC) and Denotified Nomadic Tribes (DNT), have argued that by the said 97amendment of the constitution, the parliament has encroached upon the subject of ‘co-operative society’ which falls under the exclusive domain of State. Co-operative societies are listed as entry number 32 in the list of subjects as exclusive domain of the state government.

It has also argued that the amendment does not explicitly provide reservation of seats in favour of backward classes of citizens more particularly in respect of offices of Chairpersons of co-operative societies.

The 97 amendment of the constitution has made forming cooperative societies as a fundamental right.

There are in all 2,47,000 co-operative societies in Maharashtra. The state legislature has already provided reservation of one seat each to DNT-NT, OBC and Economically Backward Classes in addition to SCs and STs in managing committees of co-operative societies in Maharashtra. According to the writ petition, article 243-ZJ of the said amendment, does not find such reservation in it. “As a result, 7,50,000 candidates belonging to said reserved categories will be deprived of reservation,” said Satish Talekar, counsel for the petitioners.

The State of Maharashtra has issued a circular on November 29, 2012, directing the Commissioner of Co-operation and the Registrar of Co-operative Society, M.S. Pune to ensure that by-laws of the co-operative society shall be amended in conformity with provisions of 97amendment to the Constitution. The petitioners have sought the example of Latur Central District Central Co-operative Bank Ltd., Latur, from the agenda of the management committee meeting, which has amended its by-law so as to exclude the reservation of seats on the managing committee provided in favour of OBCs, DNTs, NTs, SBCs and economically weaker sections of society.

“At first it is the state subject and the parliament’s encroachment on it is unconstitutional. Also by not mentioning reservation to said castes constitutes an onslaught on the basic structure of the constitution,” he said.

The next hearing of the case will take place on March 28.

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