New Delhi: A Constitution amendment bill
seeking to make the right to form cooperative societies a
Fundamental Right and insulate them from political
interference was moved in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Provisions in the Bill will not only "ensure autonomous
and democratic functioning of cooperatives, but enhance public
faith in (these institutions)," Agriculture Minister Sharad
Pawar said, moving the Constitution (One Hundred and Eleventh
Amendment) Bill, 2009, for consideration and passage.
The amendments, he said, are aimed at insulating the
cooperatives from "avoidable political and bureaucratic
The bill was approved by the Lok Sabha on December 22.
The main objective of the bill, Pawar said, is to ensure
that the cooperative societies function in a democratic,
professional, autonomous and economically sound manner.
The changes in the Constitution will empower Parliament in
case of multi-state cooperative societies and state
legislatures in case of other cooperative societies to make
effective laws for running of such institutions.
Participating in the debate, Balavant Apte (BJP) said that
mere constitutional status to cooperative societies will not
help them, but an action plan is required.
On the provision for setting up a specialised agency for
conducting elections in societies, Apte said it would not be
possible to monitor all elections as there are lakhs of
E M Sudarsana Natchiappan (Cong) said cooperative
societies are necessary for the socio-economic development of
Opposing the amendment, P Rajeeve (CPI-M) said the Centre
is trying to encroach upon the rights of state governments to
make legislations in regard to cooperative societies.
S P Singh Baghel (BSP) said because of undue government
interference, the cooperative societies are not prospering. He
also suggested that members of a society should directly elect
The Bill also seeks to incorporate a clause in the
Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution for
voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic
control and professional management of cooperative societies.
A provision for incorporation, regulation and winding up
of cooperative based on the principles of democracy is also
There will also be cap on the number of directors of a
cooperative society at 21. The term of each director and
office bearers of the board will be five years.
The changes also provide for independent professional
audit of cooperative societies and right of access to
information to members of such institutions.
Presently, cooperative societies function in several
sectors like agricultural, housing, fertilisers, dairy,
fisheries, handloom and handicraft.