|Madras High Court dismisses petitions challenging the government decision|
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has held as legal and valid, the government’s decision to cancel elections to cooperative societies in the State last year.
In his order dismissing petitions challenging the decision, Justice N.Paul Vasanthakumar said the government thought it fit to cancel the elections as large-scale irregularities were pointed out and found to be true. By taking the decision, it also put on notice that it had the power to cancel the elections to maintain the purity of the election process, and that it could administratively interfere for upholding the conduct of free and fair polls. It would be a deterrent to unscrupulous candidates and biased election officials indulging in malpractices.
While two petitions, including one by Rajaji, related to the elections held for the Madras Advocate Cooperative Society Limited, another was with regard to elections conducted for Noganoor Primary Agricultural Cooperative Bank Limited, Krishnagiri.
The petitioners’ grievance was that after holding the elections to the board of directors, the government ordered cancellation of the entire polls to various cooperative societies/banks through the impugned order dated July 11, 2007. Neither the State Cooperation Secretary nor the Registrar of Cooperative Societies had any jurisdiction under the Tamil Nadu Cooperative Societies Act or rules to cancel the elections, which had been completed.
The petitioners said there had been no complaint or untoward incident during the elections to the board of directors in the society/bank wherein they were elected. No irregularities had been pointed out. Alleged irregularities in elections conducted for other societies could not be a ground to cancel their election.
Mr. Justice Paul Vasanthakumar said section 182 of the Act empowered the government to take the impugned decision, which could not be held as unauthorised. Since cooperative societies were being administered by Special Officers all these years, as promised in the impugned order, the government should take effective steps to notify the dates for fresh elections.
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