The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the elections to cooperative societies in Tamil Nadu to be held in five phases from Thursday.
A Bench of Justices S.S. Nijjar and V. Gopalagowda refused to pass an interim order of stay on a batch of special leave petitions filed by members of cooperative societies against a judgment of the Madras High Court upholding the constitutional validity/vires of the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Co-operative Societies (Third Amendment) Act, 2012.
The Bench while issuing notice to the State government also refused to entertain a prayer for keeping the ballots separately.
According to the petitioners, for almost 11 years there had been no election in the cooperative societies to elect the members of the Board of Directors/Governing Body of the societies.
Hence, Special officers had been appointed by the Registrar for short periods to manage the affairs of the societies pending constitution of the Board.
In these circumstances, Sec. 89A was inserted by the Tamil Nadu Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Act of 2011 conferring powers on the Special Officer to admit any individual eligible for admission as a member of a society.
An amendment to the Cooperative Societies Act permitting the general body to admit members was challenged by the members of societies before the Madras High Court which it rejected, thus upholding the amendment Act. The SLPs were directed against this judgment.
The petitioners said it was crystal clear that the only intention for the introduction of the amendment was to enrol new members and face the election. The present amendment was unconstitutional, ultra vires, unreasonable and liable to be quashed by this court.
The SLP raised important questions of law, viz. whether the High Court was right in upholding the amendment and whether the court was right in not considering the contention of the petitioners that the verification of the volumes of applications and the applicants on the basis of the eligibility qualification etc., was practically not possible in the general body meeting held for a very short time? The SLPs sought quashing of the impugned judgment and an interim stay of the elections.