Ker HC | No Court to render provisions of a Statute redundant or nugatory in absence of challenge to the same

Kerala High Court: Devan Ramachandran, J. contemplated a writ, where the question discussed was ‘can the office bearer of the Managing Committee of a Co-operative Society, governed by the Kerala Co-operative Societies Act, be removed through a no-confidence motion before the expiry of two years after such office bearer had assumed office?’

Petitioner contended that he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Society, which is a Primary Agricultural Credit Society registered under the provisions of the Kerala Cooperative Societies Act, 1969 and that he and the new Managing Committee took charge soon after. An election to the Managing Committee was conducted on the basis of directions from Court in another writ petition, and the Court held earlier that the term of the Managing Committee is for a period of five years. The petitioner’s specific allegation case was, just after he had completed six months in office as the President, notice for a no-confidence motion against him was brought in by certain members of the Board of Directors, he contended that these notices were illegal in law, since a motion of no-confidence could not have been brought against him for a period of two years after he had assumed office.

The learned counsel of the petitioner T.R. Harikumar, relied on the judgment in Vipulbhai M. Chaudhary v. Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd., (2015) 8 SCC 1,where it was stated that no office bearer of a Society can be removed through a motion of no-confidence except after he/she had completed two years in office. The learned counsel submitted, the Supreme Court had declared it unequivocally that in the case of Co-operative Societies registered under any Central or State law, a motion of no-confidence against an office-bearer can be moved only after two years of his assumption of office.

Counsel for the respondent-Society, S. Sreekumar, submitted that petitioner had misread the exposition of law by the Supreme Court in Vipulbhai M. Chaudhary and asserted that, as was clear from the first paragraph of the said judgment, the declarations therein were only with respect to Co-operative Societies whose Bye-Laws and Regulations contain no provisions as regards a motion of no confidence. However, in Kerala, under the Kerala Cooperative Societies Act and Rules specific provisions were engrafted for this purpose, namely, Section 28 AB and Rule 43A(xii), which provided that no office bearer of the Managing Committee of a Society was to be removed, through a no-confidence motion, unless he had been in office for a minimum period of six months after the date of assumption of such office.

The Court relied on the contention of the respondent, as was admitted by the petitioner, he had chosen not to challenge either Section 28AB of the KCS Act or Rule 43A(xii) of the KCS Rules. Declaration in Vipulbhai M.Chaudhary to the effect that a motion of no-confidence cannot be brought against a member of the Managing Committee except after a period of two years after such person has assumed office, was intended to apply only to those Societies with respect to which the applicable Statutes, Rules or Bye-laws were not contained in specific provisions as regards a no-confidence motion.

The Court held, “In the case at hand, it is conceded before me even by the learned counsel for the petitioner, that the aforementioned Section and Rule of the KCS Act and Rules clearly provide the procedural frame-work of a no-confidence motion, expressly stipulating that such a motion can be brought against the office bearers of the Managing Committee of a Society on expiry of a period of six months after such person had assumed office. Obviously, therefore, unless the petitioner challenges these statutory prescripts, it would not be permissible or prudent for this Court to declare, merely on account of Vipulbhai M.Chaudhary, that these provisions are redundant or incapable of operation and that even in the case of Societies registered under the KCS Act and Rules, no motion of no-confidence can be brought against an office-bearer of its Managing Committee, except after he/she has completed two years in office”. Hence, the petition was dismissed on the said grounds.[Chandran Pillai v. Registrar of Coop. Societies, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1646, decided on 15-03-2019]

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