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Non Active members will not be able to contest society elections.

Overturning an MVA government decision, the Shinde government is set to issue an ordinance to permit only active members to vote and stand for elections in cooperative societies, excluding housing and commercial premises.


The move is seen as a Sena-BJP attempt to gain control over the Congress-NCP-dominated rural network of cooperative sugar factories, dairies and primary farm credit societies.

The proposal approved by the state cabinet on Tuesday will amend the Maharashtra Cooperatives Act, 1960 to allow a cooperative society member to be declared inactive if she/he does not attend five previous annual general body meetings and if she/he does not consume the society's services.

Provisions of the 97th Constitutional amendment for cooperative societies, which required members to be active in order to vote or stand for elections, are to be reintroduced in Maharashtra via the Maharashtra Cooperatives Act, 1960.


The Shinde government's latest move is seen as an attempt to gain control over the rural network of cooperative sugar factories, dairies and primary agriculture credit societies, where Congress and NCP are dominant.


The state cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal to define an active member via an amendment to the state Act. The cabinet approved amendments to section 2(19) (a) which defines an active, inactive member as also sections 26, 27 and 73A of the MCS Act, 1960. A member of a cooperative society will be declared inactive if she/he does not attend five previous annual general body meetings and does not consume the society's services. This amendment will not be applicable to cooperative housing and commercial premises societies which are largely in urban areas.


"The 97th Constitutional amendment required economic participation of members in cooperative societies such as sugar, dairy, consumer etc. Members participated by way of capital, loans, deposits, etc. The amendment was first struck down by Gujarat High Court and then the Supreme Court. Between 2013-2022 the entire thing was reversed resulting in non-active members becoming members of the managing committee, board of directors," said Ramesh Prabhu, chairman, Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association.

The resultant chaos in societies led the government to bring in a rule whereby only active members could vote or stand for polls. In March 2022, the MVA regime issued an ordinance overturning the requirement that members of cooperative societies had to be "active" to vote and to contest elections. Even if they had not attended one meeting in a five-year period, they would be eligible.


The Shinde government has decided to reverse this by issuing an ordinance. The government's taken the view that allowing inactive members to contest polls results in inexperienced and disinterested members heading cooperative societies. Prabhu said it was a welcome decision as members must participate in the affairs of the organisation in line with the cooperative spirit.


"MVA allowed inactive members to vote and stand for polls in order to encourage people from the backward classes and women to participate even if they had not attended the required meetings. This ordinance is an attempt by the BJP-Sena government to try and break Congress-NCP's dominance over cooperative institutions. They tried this in the APMCs by saying only farmers can vote but they failed. They will fail here too," said NCP leader Dilip Mohite, former chairman of the state marketing federation.


Active Member Govt. GR English 07-06-2023
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