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Registrar Didn't Act Independently: Bombay HC Sets Aside Govt Order Removing NCP Members From Jalgaon Milk Union's Managing Committee

Amisha Shrivastava
31 Aug 2022 12:17 PM GMT
Registrar Didnt Act Independently: Bombay HC Sets Aside Govt Order Removing NCP Members From Jalgaon Milk Unions Managing Committee
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The Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court on Tuesday set aside an order removing 14 members of elected managing committee of the Jalgaon Zilla Dudh Utpadak Sangh Ltd. "DDR has passed the impugned order not only in the absence of any ground or by resorting to any enquiry by following the principles of natural justice but even has passed it mala fide with an ulterior motive to oblige...

The Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court on Tuesday set aside an order removing 14 members of elected managing committee of the Jalgaon Zilla Dudh Utpadak Sangh Ltd.

"DDR has passed the impugned order not only in the absence of any ground or by resorting to any enquiry by following the principles of natural justice but even has passed it mala fide with an ulterior motive to oblige the Government", the court observed.

Justices Mangesh Patil and Sandeep Marne were dealing with a writ petition challenging an order passed by Divisional Deputy Registrar of the Co-operative Societies (DDR) under section 77A of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960 (Act).

The term of the petitioners was to expire in 2020 but due to COVID pandemic, the elections of all the co-operative societies in the State were postponed from time to time and lastly till 30-09-2022 by a Government decision. However, the DDR passed an order dated 29th July, 2022 removing the petitioners from their posts and appointed 11 new members of the committee. The petitioners challenged the decision before the High Court.

Senior Advocate V.D. Hon for the petitioners submitted that the order was passed without following the principles of natural justice. The DDR didn't undertake independent scrutiny of material but passed the order on the directions of the Chief Minister. The DDR could not exercise quasi-judicial powers in the facts of the case. The new state government with an ulterior motive and in mala fide manner decided to remove the petitioners because they belong to a political party now in the opposition, it was alleged.

Government Pleader D.R. Kale submitted that the DDR has exercised his quasi-judicial power and the order can be challenged by an appeal under section 152 of the Act. In view of alternate remedy, the writ petition is not maintainable. Further, there was gross mis-management as the petitioners weren't supposed to take policy decisions due to expiry of their terms but they continued to do so.

The court noted that the Act gives certain powers to the Registrar on being satisfied of existence of the circumstances indicated under section 77A. DDR had communicated to the Chief Minister on 28 July 2022 that there were no circumstances to take any decision under section 77A and the order could be challenged. "The selfsame authority exercising the quasi-judicial power has come out with two different views on successive days which is indeed eye-catching and creates a reasonable doubt as to his being independent", the court opined.

The court observed that the DDR himself has referred to the communication from the State in his order and said,

"It is, therefore, well-nigh clear that none of the circumstances existed which could have enabled the respondent no. 4 - DDR to pass the impugned order under section 77A of the Act about which he had undertaken any enquiry."

The court relied on Joint Action Committee of Air Line Pilots' Association of India v. DGCA in which it has been observed the authority who has been vested with the powers to exercise the discretion alone can pass an order and the senior official cannot provide any guideline or direction to the authority.

The court called the brazenness of the incident "mind boggling" and said,

"This is not the manner in which a quasi-judicial authority is expected to function. The foundation and even the motive for passing the impugned order compels us to quash and set aside the impugned order."

The court further said that the alternative remedy is futile as the appeal under section 152 lies before the same state government who instructed the DDR to remove the petitioners in the first place.

Case no. – Writ Petition No. 8066 of 2022

Case title – Jagdish Lahu Badhe & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.

Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 313

Coram – Justice Mangesh S. Patil & Justice Sandeep V. Marne

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment

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