BHUBANESWAR: With the extended time limit for holding elections to cooperative societies coming to an end on July 30 and no visible effort on part of the Government to initiate the process, the State is heading for a constitutional crisis.
The State Government amended the Odisha Cooperative Societies Act, 1962 in December, 2012 to bring it in conformity with the Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011.
The Odisha Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Act, 2012 came into force with effect from January 30, 2013. Under Section 17 of the Amendment Act, a time period of six months is provided within which elections to all co-operative societies should be held from the date of commencement of the Amendment Act. The mandatory six-month time expired on July 31 last year.
However, the State Government extended the time frame by another year ending July 30 this year. Even as the deadline for election is nearing, no initiative has been taken by the Government to start the process.
Meanwhile, the Odisha Cooperative Societies Rules, 1965 and the Odisha Cooperative Societies (Election to the Committees) Rules, 1992 have been amended for holding elections to cooperative societies.
Publication of the final rules was not possible as a case is pending in the Supreme Court since 2011, official sources said.
The issue figured in the Assembly when some members including Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati and ruling BJD MLA Ranendra Pratap Swain sought to know from Cooperation Minister Damodar Rout about the status of the cooperative societies in the State.
The Minister said the State Cooperative Election Commission is not able to initiate the election process due to want of publication of the final rules by the Government. The matter was referred to the Law Department which advised the Government to take permission of the apex court for publication of the final rules for conducting elections.
Responding to Bahinipati, the Minister said two of the 2,709 primary agriculture cooperative societies (PACS) are defunct.