Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Sep 26:
As expected, the Odisha government has brought an ordinance to defer cooperative elections in the state by another six months.
The government issued gazette notification on Thursday to further amend the Odisha Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Act, 2012, in a move to delay the polls for the cooperative bodies by 24 months altogether.
Last month, the Odisha High Court had directed the government to hold polls, which have already got delayed by 18 months, within six months.
The directive of the court came after the single judge bench of Justice AK Rath heard a writ petition filed by the former director of Urban Co-operative Bank, Cuttack, Tilottama Pradhan, seeking elections within the stipulated time.
Decks were cleared for the cooperative elections in the state after the Supreme Court allowed a special leave petition of the government seeking permission to go ahead with the conduct of elections to the cooperative bodies in accordance with the 97th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2011.
Despite the Supreme Court’s directives on the matter since July 30, the state government did not initiate any step to conduct elections.
Moreover, the post of cooperative election commissioner in the state has been lying vacant since the previous incumbent, retired IAS officer Rabinarayan Senapati, who was appointed as the first cooperative election commissioner of the state, has now been made the state election commissioner.
In January 2013, the Odisha Co-operative Societies Act, 1962 was amended by the Odisha Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Act, 2012 to bring it in conformity with the Constitution (Ninety-Seventh Amendment) Act, 2011.
The Amendment Act contains a transitory provision under section 17 providing for a time period of six months from the date of commencement of the Amendment Act within which the election to all Co-operative Societies shall be held.
The Odisha Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Act, 2012 came into force on 30th January, 2013 and as such, the said period of six months for holding elections to the cooperative societies expired on July 31, 2013.
Later in August, 2013, the Cabinet decided to postpone the election to co-operative bodies by a year precisely on the ground that the rules are yet to be finalised. While the government was supposed to hold polls for co-operatives by July 31, it did not adhere to the deadline on the ground that the nod of the apex court is required for the election.