Model Code Of Conduct Not Applicable To Co-operative Society Not Funded By Govt : Gujarat HC [Read Judgment]
The High Court of Gujarat has held that Model Code of Conduct(MCC) is not applicable to a co-operative society which is not wholly or partially funded by the Government and which is not carrying on development work on behalf of the Government.
On this ground, the Court quashed the order of the District Electoral Officer, which cancelled the decision of Mehsana District Co-operative Milk Producers Union Ltd to convene a special general body meeting.
"insofar as co-operative societies are concerned, on a plain reading of clause 3.5 of the Code of Conduct, it is evident that unless such society is funded wholly or partially by the Central Government or the State Government and is carrying on development work on their behalf it would not be governed by the Model Code of Conduct during the routine course of its business", held the Division Bench of Justices Harsha Devani and Bhargav D Karia.
The Court accepted the argument of the petitioner that the model code of conduct mainly applies to the ruling Government and candidates and parties and does not apply to the general citizens and that a meeting held by a co-operative society in the regular course of its business would not fall within the ambit of the Model Code of Conduct.
On March 8, the Society had announced its decision to convene a special general body meeting on March 24 to amend bye laws. The elections were declared on March 10, and the MCC came into effect. Citing this, the District Electoral Officer directed the Society to postpone its meeting after elections.
The Court added that the special general body meeting would not be hit by MCC even if it was assumed that MCC will apply to the society. MCC is intended to prevent Government and government instrumentalities from announcing development projects to influence voters. But routine activities of a Society will not amount to a mischief which is sought to be prevented by MCC.
"On a plain reading of the two contentious agenda items, it is apparent that both the items relate to amendments of the bye laws of the first petitioner Union, which have nothing to do with developmental activities nor do they relate to distributing freebies so as to influence the voters. On fails to understand as to how amendment of the bye-laws of the first petitioner Union would have an impact on the voters as contemplated under the Model Code of Conduct", observed the bench, quashing the direction of the Electoral Officer and permitting the Society to proceed with the meeting.