TAMIL NADU

Coop. secretary contests FIR in copra scam

CHENNAI AUG. 26. A cooperative society secretary has moved the Madras High Court to quash a first information report filed against him in connection with the `copra procurement scam', on the ground that the prosecution should have invoked only provisions of the TN Cooperative Societies Act, instead of the IPC or Prevention of Corruption Act.

Admitting the writ plea made by R. Srinivasan, secretary, Palladam Agricultural Producers Cooperative Society, Justice K. Govindarajan ordered notices to the Registrar of Cooperative Societies and the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, and posted the matter for September 1. The `scam' pertains to the procurement of copra from coconut growers through the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation Limited, State-level agency for the national federation. The procurement was made on the basis of certificates, issued by village administrative officers, and identity cards issued by an Assistant Director of Agriculture.

Stating that the entire transaction took place in 2000, the petitioner said after the `change of Government', an investigation was conducted into the copra procurement and an FIR registered against him (among others) on February 7, for alleged offences under the provisions of the IPC and the PC Act. The allegation was that middlemen, who, with the help of VAOs and others, procured copra for lesser price and sold it to the TANFED for a huge profit, exploited farmers. False certificates were obtained in the name of farmers who did not even have land.

Mr. Srinivasan said the TN Cooperative Societies Act had enough provisions for dealing with allegations of misappropriation, fraudulent transaction, breach of trust and mismanagement, and that the Registrar of Cooperative Societies alone was the competent authority to order an inquiry into the allegations.

"The Act is a self-contained Code and addresses all problems, which may arise in cooperative societies in the State," he said, adding that this Special Act would override a general Act such as the IPC. The Act spelt out punishment for corrupt practices. "Therefore, the entire FIR filed by the DVAC is without jurisdiction and interfering with the legal duties cast upon the Registrar of Cooperative Societies".

He prayed for declaring the FIR null and void, and injunct the DVAC from arresting the petitioner on the basis of the impugned FIR.

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