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Proposed amendment to Cooperatives Act decried

By Our Staff Correspondent

BIDAR DEC. 21. Sahakara Bharati, a non-governmental organisation working in the field of cooperation, has taken exception to the State Government's move to amend the Karnataka Cooperatives Act, 1997, saying that such a move will reduce the autonomy of cooperative institutions.

Gurunath Jantikar, general secretary of the organisation, told presspersons on Saturday that the Cabinet had "virtually violated" the internationally accepted principles of cooperation by approving the amendments.

He said the Government was planning to bring about the amendments through an Ordinance or by placing a Bill in the coming legislature session.

By effecting the amendments, the Government planned to take over the powers of inquiry into irregularities, superseding of cooperatives, and their liquidation, which were now wrested with Federal Cooperative, an elected body governing cooperatives.

This defeated the very purpose of setting up cooperative societies, which had been performing better than the State-controlled ones, he added.

One of the most important principles of the International Cooperative Alliance was that cooperatives should be formed voluntarily.

The proposed amendment to Section 4(1) of the Act would give full power to the Registrar of Cooperative Societies to approve or disapprove the formation of cooperatives, he said. This amounted to taking away powers of voluntary formation vested with the promoters of these bodies, Mr. Jantikar said.

Amendments to sections 35, 36, and 37 of the Act would enable the Government to initiate suo motu proceedings into irregularities in cooperative societies, while the amendment to Section 38 would empower the Government to supersede cooperatives.

Other amendments would allow it to liquidate them. These changes were unwarranted and were detrimental to the growth of the cooperative movement in India, Mr. Jantikar said.

The Act had been modelled on a draft prepared by the Central Planning Commission based on the Ardhanareeshwaran Committee's recommendations.

The committee had stated in clear terms that interference by the Government was the prime reason for the under performance of cooperatives, and suggested the enactment of an Act that would provide autonomy to these institutions.

By amending the Act, the Government was trying to revive its control over the cooperative societies, which would provide scope for corruption, Mr. Jantikar said.

He warned that his organisation and over 250 cooperatives formed under the Act in the State would stage a State-wide protest against the Government if it went ahead with the amendments.

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