Apex Court refuses to stay order on cooperative polls

J. Venkatesan

High Court had quashed a G.O. cancelling all cooperative polls

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay a Madras High Court judgment quashing a government order issued in July, 2007 cancelling all cooperative elections held or in progress in the State.

A Bench of Justice L.S. Panta and Justice B. Sudershan Reddy, while refusing stay on an appeal by the State, issued notice to the respondent cooperative societies that had challenged the July 11, 2007 notification cancelling the polls.

Senior counsel M.N. Rao and Additional Advocate General P. Wilson submitted that the High Court had erred in setting aside the notification and the consequential order of the Registrar, Cooperative Societies, pertaining to two appeals regarding elections to the Madras Advocates Cooperative Society Limited (MACSL) and the MACSL (canteen).

The High court had directed authorities to take steps on the election results in respect of the two societies.

Assailing the judgment, the SLP stated that the G.O. was issued after the government came to the conclusion that free and fair elections were not conducted in most of the societies. At the time when the G.O. was issued, out of 22,934 primary societies for which elections were planned, polls had been completed in 14,925 societies and 1,19,091 persons, declared elected.

The SLP contended that Section 182 of the TN Cooperative Societies Act, 1983 gave ample power to the government to take a decision to cancel the polls. It could not be held as unauthorised when no mala fide had been alleged. Though the High Court had given direction only in respect of few societies for which elections were cancelled, it had created a situation of chaos and confusion all around.

It raised important questions of law — whether the High Court was right in holding that by no stretch of argument the G.O. could be said to have been issued under Section 182 of the TNCS Act; whether it was right in questioning the government’s decision to hold fresh elections after consulting leaders of all the political parties was erroneous; whether it was right in saying that the power under Article 162 of the Constitution (executive power of the State) could be exercised by the government to fill the yawning gaps in the statute or rules whenever there was a vacuum or lacuna as far as these orders were concerned. The SLP sought quashing of the impugned judgment and an interim stay of its operation.