The Multi-State Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Bill-2022 was sent to a joint committee of Parliament with 21 members from the Lower House and 10 members from the Upper House on Tuesday.
The government proposed on December 7 that “any cooperative society” merge with an existing multi-state cooperative society.
Home Minister Amit Shah put forward a proposal in Lok Sabha to do this, and it was passed with a voice vote. The committee has until the last day of the first week of the second part of the 2023 Budget Session to give the House its report. Speaker of the Lok Sabha Om Birla will choose one of the committee members to be in charge.
Of the 21 Lok Sabha members on the committee, a maximum of 12 are from BJP — Chandra Prakash Joshi, Jagdambika Pal, Parbatbhai Savabhai Pate, Poonamben Hematbhai Madam, Ramdas Chandrabhanji Tadas, Annasaheb Shankar Jolle, Nishikant Dubey, Sunita Duggal, Brijendra Singh, Jaskaur Meena, Ram Kripal Yadav, and Dhal Singh Bisen. Besides, two members are from Congress Suresh Kodikunnil and Manish Tewari, and one each from DMK (Kanimozhi Karunanidhi), TMC (Kalyan Banerjee), YSRCP (Sri Krishna Devarayalu Lavu), Shiv Sena (Hemant Shriram Patil), JDU (Dulal Chandra Goswami), BJD (Chandra Sekhar Sahu) and BSP (Girish Chandra).
This change was proposed by the Centre through Section 6 of the Bill. Minister of State for Cooperation B L Verma brought the Bill to the Lok Sabha. The current law, which was passed 20 years ago, says that only multi-state cooperative societies can join together to make a new multi-state cooperative society.
But now, “any cooperative society may, by a resolution passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting at a general meeting of such society, decide to merge into an existing multi-state co-operative society: Provided that such resolution shall be subject to provisions of the respective State Cooperative Societies Act for the time being in force, under which such cooperative society is registered,” says the proposed sub-section (10) to b.
The Bill also wants to set up a “cooperative election authority” to bring “electoral reforms” to the cooperative sector. The government wants to change Section 45 of the 2002 Act to do this. According to the proposed change, the authority will have a chairperson, a vice-chairperson, and up to three other members who will be chosen by the Centre.
When the Bill was first brought up in the Lok Sabha, members of the Opposition, like N K Premachandran of the RSP and Manish Tewari and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress, were against it. They wanted the Bill to be sent to the Standing Committee because, they said, it would “take away” the rights of state governments and go against the way the country is set up.
The Bill wants to add a new section, called 63A, to the main Act. This is about “establishing the Cooperative Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, and Development Fund” to help “sick multi-state cooperative societies” get better. It also wants to add a new section, 70A, about “concurrent audits” for multi-state societies whose annual sales or deposits are more than the amount set by the Center.