The Bombay High Court recently ordered fresh elections to the Managing Committee of an industrial cooperative society in Chunabhatti. Following their removal from the Committee for non-execution of Bonds under the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act. Deepak Rao and others had moved the HC contesting the order passed by the Divisional Joint Registrar as he was “facing corruption charges and his anticipatory bail application was rejected by the sessions court”.

The Managing Committee of the Shri Mahalakshmi Industrial Premises Cooperative Society Ltd was superseded by an order of the Deputy Registrar of Cooperative Societies on July 6. The members challenged the order before the Divisional Joint Registrar Shivaji Pahinkar — who is under suspension, according to Assistant Government Pleader G W Mattos. Pahinkar dismissed their appeal on October 23, following which the members moved the HC.

According to Mattos, the petitioners contested Pahinkar’s order as he had passed it on October 23, a day after his anticipatory bail application was rejected by the session’s court. The petitioners expressed apprehension that the order was “based on consideration other than merit”, according to Mattos.

According to Mattos, Justice A M Khanwilkar observed that if the petitioners' contention was accepted, the court would have to order an inquiry into the allegations and, if found true, the matter will have to be referred back to the appellate authority for fresh hearing.

Mattos contended before Justice Khanwilkar that the managing committee was removed on technical grounds as they ceased to be members for non-execution of bonds. Mattos submitted that instead of going into allegations and counter-allegations, it would be appropriate to hold fresh elections to the committee.

According to Mattos, observing that the removal was technically correct, the court directed that the three members of the seven who had executed the bonds should continue to function as the Board of Administrators (BoA) instead of the single administrator appointed by the Deputy Registrar of Cooperative Societies on July 6.

Mattos said the HC then directed the Deputy Registrar of Cooperative Societies to issue order in this regard by December 27. The court also directed that elections to the committee should be held within three months. The court has, however, asked the BoA not to take any major policy decisions during this period.