History was created in the Lok Sabha on Thursday when it passed Constitution (111th) Bill, 2009 which made right to form cooperative societies as a fundamental right. The House also accorded right to set up a specialised agency on the lines of the Election Commission which can conduct election of the cooperative societies.
A jubilant Sharad Pawar Union Cooperative and Agriculture Minister said that the bill would usher in an era of professionalization and democratization thereby strengthening the cooperative movement. It was Pawar who had moved the bill on Wednesday , discussion on which remained inconclusive till evening.
Thursday forenoon saw the passage of cooperative bill which put the right to form cooperative into the category of Fundamental Rights. The other features of bill are yet to be known. The basic points filtering through so far could be summed up as
1 Right to form cooperatives is a fundamental right
2 Cooperatives could set up agency which would oversee election
3 Uniformity in the tenure of Cooperative Board of Directors
4 provisions for incorporation, regulation and winding up of co-operative societies based on the principles of democratic member-control, member-economic participation and autonomous functioning;
5 specifying the maximum number of directors of a co-operative society to be not exceeding twenty-one members;
6 providing for a fixed term of five years from the date of election in respect of the elected members of the board and its office bearers;
7 providing for a maximum time limit of six months during which a board of directors of co-operative society could be kept under supersession or suspension;
8 providing for independent professional audit;
9 providing for right of information to the members of the co-operative societies;
10 empowering the State Governments to obtain periodic reports of activities and accounts of co-operative societies;
11 providing for the reservation of one seat for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes and two seats for women on the board of every co-operative society, which have individuals as members from such categories;
12 providing for offences relating to co-operative societies and penalties in respect of such offences.