Decided on January 07,2003



- (1.) Cooperation among cooperatives is one of universally accepted cooperative principles. (See Karve Commission on Cooperative Principles Report unanimously adopted in the Vienna Cooperative Congress in 1966). The statutory scheme and scope of cooperation between the District Cooperative Bank and the Primary Cooperative Societies in the respective revenue district, under the Kerala Cooperative Societies Act, 1969 is the subject matter of dispute in these cases.
(2.) Constitutional validity of the Kerala Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Act, 2002 (Act 3 of 2002), hereinafter called the Amendment Act is the challenge in these Original Petitions. The petitions were originally filed at a time the Kerala Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Ordinance, 2002 (6 of 2002) was promulgated. The Ordinance came into effect from 4.5.2002, and the Act is given retrospective effect from that date. The impugned amendments pertain to (1) restoration of the status of District Cooperative Banks with membership open to any type of primary societies and federal and central societies having head quarter in the respective districts as it stood prior to Act 15 of 1997; (2) the consequential amendment on the cessation of nominal or associate members in the case of primary societies; (3) the concept of active membership introduced as per Act 1 of 2000 with effect from 1.1.2000 being dropped; (4) deemed membership given to primary societies which had ceased to be members on the commencement of Act 15 of 1997 and provision for application for membership in the case of nominal or associate members enrolled after 3.6.1997; (5) cessation of the committee in office of the District Cooperative Banks with effect from 4.5.2002.
(3.) The main arguments advanced by the petitioners: (1)The amendment is ultra vires the Constitution of India infracting Articles 14 and 19(1)(c) and (g). (2)The legislation takes away the benefit of the judgment of this Court in O.P.29277/2002 and connected cases and the judgments following the said Division Bench judgment wherein the Court declared that the Committee of the respective District Cooperative Banks will be entitled to continue for a term of 5 years. (3)Even after changing the definition of District Cooperative Bank, it was not necessary to dethrone that existing committee before its term: instead the existing committees could have been requested to constitute new committees on the basis of the amended provision. It was also contended that the said provision under Section 7(1)(c ) of the Amendment Act does not find a slot in the parent Act and therefore, cannot be treated as part of Amendment Act. (4)The concept of active membership having been introduced with a purpose, it should not have been dropped, atleast without experimenting it for some time. (5)Deemed membership is against the very concept of membership which is to be granted only on application. That is a function of the respective society and the legislature is incompetent to provide deemed membership.;

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