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Sonali Cooperative Housing Society Ltd. and Ors. Vs. State of West Bengal and Ors. - (High Court of Calcutta) (19 Sep 2019)

Registrar is competent to hold an inquiry into the affairs of any Society


Trusts and Societies

The Petitioner No. 1 is a registered Cooperative Society. The Petitioners are aggrieved by the issuance of memo being Nos. 2555/1(2)/1-1212/76 dated 10th June 2019 issued by the Joint Registrar of Co-operative Societies. By the memo dated 10th June 2019 the Joint Registrar requested the Deputy Registrar to cause an enquiry into the affairs of the Society, in general, as per Section 100 of the Co-operative Societies Act, 2006. By the memo dated 30th July 2019, the Deputy Registrar has invoked the provision of Section 100(1) of the Act and entrusted the Cooperative Development Officer to cause an inquiry into the affairs of the Society with special emphasis on the complaint lodged by the private respondent.

The primary allegation of the Petitioner is that, according to Section 100(1) of the Act, the Registrar may, at any time, of his own motion, hold by himself or by any person authorized by him an inquiry into the affairs of any cooperative society. The Petitioners submit that according to the aforesaid provision the Registrar could have held an inquiry on his own motion and not on the basis of any complaint lodged by an applicant not specified in the said Section.

Prima facie, it appears that the Registrar is competent to hold an inquiry into the affairs of any Society. The same may be on the basis of an application or on his own motion. Section 100(2) of the Act, contains a list of applicants who can apply before the Registrar for an inquiry. The proviso to the said Section mentions that, the Registrar may, before initiating any action for inquiry satisfy himself whether the signatures of the applicants are genuine and whether the claim of the applicants is supported by proper documents.

The power to conduct an inquiry remains vested with the Registrar is not in dispute. The Statute provides the power to the Registrar to hold inquiry into the affairs of any co-operative society at any time. The idea is to ensure proper administration and management of a co-operative Society. None of the parties is likely to be prejudiced, if the inquiry is held in accordance with law.

As the Registrar has applied his mind on the application filed by the private respondent and have opined that, the issues raised therein are of serious nature relating to mismanagement of the Society, accordingly, present Court is not inclined to pass any order staying the operation of the impugned memos dated 6th June, 2019 and 30th July, 2019. The inquiry officer will be at liberty to proceed with the inquiry strictly in accordance with law and prepare the inquiry report.


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