A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Thursday restrained the State government from appointing members to the administrative committees of dissolved district cooperative banks on political lines.

The Bench of Justice C.N. Ramachandran Nair and Justice Babu Mathew P. Joseph, however, made it clear that the order did not bar the government from appointing government officials as members of the administrative committees. The court said that even senior government officers outside the Cooperative Department could be appointed as administrators or members of the committees.

The court observed that it was not desirable for the government to substitute elected managing committee members with nominated ones. Therefore, the court directed the government to retain the administrators until elections to the respective managing committees were held and new managing committees took over.

The court was of the view that the administrator of a district cooperative bank should be an officer not below the rank of joint registrar and no one involved in any corrupt practice should be appointed. As far as the State Cooperative Bank was concerned, no person below the rank of government secretary should be appointed as administrator.

The court passed the order while dismissing appeals filed against a single judge's interim order declining to restore the dissolved managing committees of the district cooperative banks.

The Bench directed the State government to file an affidavit within three weeks. The court directed the single judge to dispose of a batch of writ petitions challenging the Kerala Cooperative Society (Second Amendment) Ordinance pending before the judge in six weeks.

The petitioners were presidents and director board members of various disbanded cooperative banks. The ordinance, while dissolving the managing committees of the banks, appointed the joint registrar of cooperative societies as administrators of the banks.

Dismissing the plea of the petitioners, the Bench said that the superseded district cooperative banks were being run by administrators for a month. So much so, the court did not find any ground to restore the managing committees.

According to the petitioners, the ordinance was illegal and arbitrary and promulgated with mala fide intentions to topple the existing director boards of the banks and put them under the control of the United Democratic Front government.

They pointed out that the new ordinance went against the High Court order on the voting rights of primary cooperative societies.

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