A day after the Supreme Court struck down parts of the 97th amendment to the Constitution that sought to crimp powers of the state governments over their cooperative societies, the National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI) expressed unhappiness over the judgement and hoped that the new cooperatives ministry will find a way out of the same.
It also wanted formulation of a National Policy on Cooperatives, which will ensure that there is uniformity in cooperative acts across the states so that there is transparency in them which in turn strengthens the cooperative movement. NCUI is an apex organization of the cooperative movement.
The Amendment was passed by Parliament in December 2011 and had come into effect from February 15, 2012, during the UPA regime.
The amendments apart from making Right to Form cooperatives a fundamental right had also laid several guidelines for the state legislations governing the cooperative societies.
These according to some experts included mandatory registration of cooperatives, minimum qualification of the Board Members of a Cooperative, their tenure also the timeframe for which a state government can take over the governance of a coop society.
A bunch of petitions were filed in the Gujarat High Court challenging the amendment on the grounds that it violated the basic structure of the constitution.
The main argument of the petitioners was that the amendment required ratification by at least one half of the state since it impacted a subject in the state list.
The Gujarat High Court accepted the argument of the petitioners to strike down the entire portion of that part of the amendment which laid down directions for state legislations for cooperatives.
The Supreme Court in its judgement while upholding the Gujarat High Court Order had saved the application of the amendments for Multi-State Cooperative Societies which come under the jurisdiction of the Central government.
The apex court judgement that upheld the supremacy of state governments in governing the cooperative societies that fall within their jurisdiction could have far reaching ramifications in light of fears being expressed in some quarters over the new cooperative ministry interfering in their domain.
The All India Kisan Sabha has criticised the formation of the new cooperatives ministry on the grounds that it is moving towards centralisation, and an imminent threat to Indian federalism and for the future of cooperative movement in the country.
The SC judgement some experts said clearly lays down the jurisdiction of the new cooperatives ministry and clips its role over the state coops.
Meanwhile, former NCUI President G H Amin suggested that the present government should again initiate the process for constitutional amendment based on legal provisions.
The National Federation of State Co-operative Banks (NAFSCOB) Managing Director B Subrahmanyam said that prior to the SC verdict, a number of state governments have already amended their state legislatures, incorporating these amendments based on the 97th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2011.
He said the government now needs to persuade remaining states to bring in amendments through their state legislatures.