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Gurcharan Singh Vs. State of Haryana and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ No. 2207 of 1977
Judge
Reported inAIR1979P& H61; 1978CriLJ1330
ActsPunjab Co-operative Societies Act, 1961 - Sections 27 and 27(1A); ;Gram Panchayat Act - Sections 102 and 102(1)
AppellantGurcharan Singh
RespondentState of Haryana and ors.
Cases ReferredHari Singh v. Director of Panchayats
Excerpt:
.....constitution. - 6. in the larger perspective also it is manifest that the suspension of the managing committee during the course of the proceedings of supersession appears to be emergent or urgent matter which may well be necessitated upon the authority being satisfied that the same is necessary in the interest of the co-operative society. if in the context of such an urgent or emergent action, the relatively tardy requirements of principles of natural justice requiring the necessity to issue a show cause notice, affording time for the filing of a reply, the consideration of the same and perhaps to afford the opportunity to lead evidence and thereafter to decide the same were to be imported it may well in effect lead to defeating the very purpose of an emergent provision of this..........passing reference to them suffices. gurcharan singh, petitioner, is one of the five members of the managing committee of the hansala co-operative agriculture service society ltd., hansala. the deputy registrar, co-operative societies, kurukshetra exercising the powers of the registrar initiated proceedings for the supersession of the aforesaid committee. the notice, annexure p. 1 dated the 19th of july, 1977 was issued to the said committee to show cause as to why the same be not superseded or removed and therein a number of irregularities and illegalities committed by the managing committee were listed seriatim. the members of the committee were invited to show cause and given an opportunity to clear their position regarding the charges specified in the notice annexure p. 1 within a.....
Judgment:

S.S. Sandhawalia, C.J.

1. Whether an opportunity to show cause is imperative before suspending a member or a Committee of a Co-operative Society during the course of the proceedings for supersession under S. 27 of the Punjab Co-operative Societies Act, 1961 (as applicable in Haryana) is the significant question which falls for determination in this reference to the Full Bench.

2. The facts are not in serious dispute and a passing reference to them suffices. Gurcharan Singh, petitioner, is one of the five members of the Managing Committee of the Hansala Co-operative Agriculture Service Society Ltd., Hansala. The Deputy Registrar, Co-operative Societies, Kurukshetra exercising the powers of the Registrar initiated proceedings for the supersession of the aforesaid Committee. The notice, annexure P. 1 dated the 19th of July, 1977 was issued to the said Committee to show cause as to why the same be not superseded or removed and therein a number of irregularities and illegalities committed by the Managing Committee were listed seriatim. The members of the Committee were invited to show cause and given an opportunity to clear their position regarding the charges specified in the notice annexure P. 1 within a fortnight of the receipt thereof as required under S. 27 of the Act. However, the authority further took the view that in view of the charges levelled against the Managing Committee it should not be allowed to function during the pendency of the proceedings for supersession and removal and acting under S. 27(1A) of the Act The authority suspended the Managing Committee and appointed Shri Kuldip Rai Vaid, Development Officer of the Kurukshetra Central Co-operative Bank Ltd., as its Administrator meanwhile. The aforesaid suspension is the subject-matter of challenge in this writ petition.

3. When the matter first came up for hearing before a Division Bench, the primary and indeed the sole ground raised on behalf of the petitioner was that the impugned action of suspension had been taken against him without giving any notice and opportunity of being heard. Reliance for this contention was wholly based on two Division Bench judgments. In C.W.P. No. 8358 of 1976, Shadipur Co-operative Credit Society v. State of Haryana, decided on the 29th of Jan. 1977, the Division Bench in a short order at the stage of motion hearing observed that the vested rights of the Managing Committee to look after the affairs of the Society could not be nullified unless an enquiry in accordance with the principles of natural justice had been conducted. Consequently the Bench proceeded forthwith to quash the impugned order of suspension leaving it open to the authorities concerned to pass a fresh order in accordance with law. The same Division Bench reiterated their earlier view, even though its correctness was challenged before them again at the motion stage only in the judgment reported in Angrej Singh v. State of Haryana, 1978 Pun LJ 15.

4. By the order of reference the learned Judges of the Division Bench seriously doubted the view expounded in the aforesaid two decisions and therefore referred the matter for decision by a larger Bench. That is how the matter is before us.

5. It is evident that the real and indeed the only question here is the correctness of the observations made in the Shadipur Co-operative Credit and Services Society (C.W.P. No. 8358 of 1976, D/- 29-1-1977 (Punj & Har)) and Angrej Singh's cases (1978 Pun LJ 15) (supra). However, before restoring to a critical analysis of the aforesaid judgments, one must inevitably have a close look at the relevant provisions of the statute around which the controversy must necessarily revolve. Section 27 (1) and (1A) of the Punjab Co-operative Societies Act as applicable in Haryana read as follows:

'27. Supersession of Committee. (1) If in the opinion of the Registrar a committee or any member thereof persistently makes default or is negligent in the performance of the duties imposed on it or him by this Act or the rules or the bye-laws or commits any act which is prejudicial to the interest of the society or its members, the Registrar may after giving the committee or member as the case may be, an opportunity to state its or his objections, if any, by order in writing--

(a) remove the committee, and--

(i) order fresh election to the committee, or

(ii) appoint one or more administrators who need not be members of the society, to manage the 'affairs of the society for a period not exceeding one year specified in the order which period may, at the discretion of the Registrar be extended from time to time, so, however, that the aggregate period does not exceed five years;

(b) remove the member and get the vacancy filled up for the remaining period of the outgoing member, according to the provisions of this Act, the rules and the bye-laws.

(1A) where the Registrar while proceeding to take action under sub-section (1), is of the opinion that suspension of the Committee or member during the period of proceedings is necessary in the interest of the Co-operative society, he may suspend the committee or member, as the case may be, and where the committee is suspended, make such arrangement as he thinks proper for the management of the affairs of the society till the proceedings are completed:

Provided, that if the committee or member so suspended is not removed, it or he shall be reinstated and the period of suspension shall count towards its or his term.'

Even a bare look at the plain language of the aforequoted provisions at once brings to mind the significant fact that the legislature in its wisdom has in express terms provided for the giving of an opportunity to show cause as regards the supersession of the Managing Committee or removal of a member thereof under sub-section (1) of S. 27 of the Act. However, when sub-section (1A) was inserted in the section by way of amendment vide Haryana Act 22 of 1972, the framers of the statute had designedly not used the earlier phraseology o reasonable opportunity to show cause being given in the context of the suspension of the Managing Committee or a member. Therefore as regards suspension the provision of a show cause notice is conspicuous by its absence. It appears to me as settled canon of construction that when the legislature uses different language and particularly in contiguous provisions it must be presumed to have done so designedly. It seems hardly possible to hold that whilst in S. 27(1) an opportunity to show cause is expressly provided for, yet in sub-section (1A) where it is designedly excluded the end-result should still be the same. In fact the only inference from this difference in terminology appears to be plain, namely, that in the context of suspension under sub-section (1A), the legislature has by necessary implication excluded any opportunity to show cause. I am, therefore, of the view that the provisions of sub-section (1A) when viewed particularly in juxtaposition to sub-section (1) lead to a clear pointer that whilst resort to the principles of natural justice is expressly provided in the more material case of supersession and removal of the Managing Committee or its member the same is excluded in a relatively minor and interlocutory stage of the suspension of the Managing Committee or any one of its members. It deserves highlighting that suspension is only one of the intermediatary steps in the course of the proceedings taken under S. 27(1) for the supersession or removal of the Managing Committee or any one of its members.

6. In the larger perspective also it is manifest that the suspension of the Managing Committee during the course of the proceedings of supersession appears to be emergent or urgent matter which may well be necessitated upon the authority being satisfied that the same is necessary in the interest of the Co-operative Society. This indeed is provided by the statute itself in sub-section (1A) of the Act. Apparently to prevent any further misappropriation of the Society's funds or irreparable injury to its property and its working, the Registrar is clothed with the power to suspend the Managing committee and make immediate alternative arrangements for the management of its affairs, if necessary. If in the context of such an urgent or emergent action, the relatively tardy requirements of principles of natural justice requiring the necessity to issue a show cause notice, affording time for the filing of a reply, the consideration of the same and perhaps to afford the opportunity to lead evidence and thereafter to decide the same were to be imported it may well in effect lead to defeating the very purpose of an emergent provision of this nature. If that be so, it is equally well-settled that a construction which would tend to defeat rather than advance the intent of the legislature has inevitably to be avoided.

7. Mr. A. S. Nehra, learned Additional Advocate General of the State of Haryana, also forcefully argued on the analogy of service cases in this context. It is rightly pointed out that in the whole gamut of service law the suspension of a public servant does not attract the principles of natural justice to require that even a show cause notice be given prior to the emergent act of suspension. Counsel rightly contended that the suspension of a member of a Managing Committee though not identical, is on a similar footing. It was further pointed out that the legislature has made identical provisions of supersession and suspension with regard to the Managing Committee as a body as also of an individual member. On this premises it was forcefully submitted that the provisions of a notice and an elaborate opportunity to show cause is rather incongruous in the context of the emergent and urgent nature of action visualised at the stage of suspension by the legislature.

8. Coming now to the two judgments, the correctness of which is under consideration, it is significant to notice that these are obviously on first impression, and as has already been noticed, recorded at the motion stage only. An analysis thereof leaves no manner of doubt that the issue was very far from being seriously agitated before the Bench. In particular the observations in Shadipur Co-operative Credit and Service Society's case (C.W.P. No. 8358 of 1976, D/- 29-1-1977 (Punj & Har) (supra) are apparently wholly brief and it appears that even the material provisions were not pointedly brought to the notice of their Lordships. In Angrej Singh's case (1978 Pun LJ 15) the same Bench had only chosen to follow its earlier observations and herein again the matter does not seem to have been forcefully presented in all its aspects on behalf of the respondents. In particular, the significant difference in the terminology used in sub-section (1) in contradiction to sub-section (1A) has not at all been noticed. The emergent or in any case the urgent nature of the provision regarding the suspension and the fact that the same is nothing but a step in the larger context of the supersession and removal of the Managing Committee in which ultimately the parties are entitled to show cause, has also not been mentioned. Reliance in Angrej Singh's case (supra) was placed, in passing on Little Gibbs Co-op. Housing Society Ltd. Bombay v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1972 Bom 108. It deserves recalling that that case was one of supersession and not of suspension and significantly Section 78 of the relevant statute therein in terms provided for an opportunity to show cause. The observations in the said judgment, therefore, are of no aid to the view expounded with regard to the suspension in the two cases.

9. The Division Bench had then attempted to distinguish the settled law in this Court under Section 102 of the Gram Panchayat Act on the ground that a Sarpanch had no monetary stakes, whereas a member of the Co-operative Society or its Managing Committee had a financial interest in the management of the business of the Society. With respect, I am of the view that that consideration would not be pre-eminently relevant in the matter of the construction of a statute wherein the language, if not in pari materia, is at least analogous.

10. Apart from principle and rationale, there appears also to be a plethora of authority within this Court on an analogous provision. Section 102(1) of the Punjab Gram Panchayat Act similarly vests a power of suspension of a Panch, in the Deputy Commissioner during the course of an enquiry instituted against him for his removal. That the provisions are of a similar nature appears to be manifest. In interpreting the said provisions a Division Bench of this Court in Rajinder Singh v. Director of Panchayats Punjab, (1963) 65 Pun LR 1085 had occasion to observe that the said Section did not talk of giving any notice before passing the order of suspension and did not choose to read any principle of natural justice therein. Similar observations were made by Shamsher Bahadur J. in Ratti Ram v. Deputy Commr. Patiala, (1965) 67 Pun LR 529. Koshal J., (as the learned Chief Justice then was) in Gurdial Singh v. State of Punjab, 1971 Pun LJ 417 similarly had an occasion to construe Section 102(1) of the Gram Panchayat Act and held that no notice or opportunity before passing an order of suspension against a Panch was required by the statute. Lastly in this context is the Division Bench judgment in Hari Singh v. Director of Panchayats, Punjab, 76 Pun LR 789: (AIR 1975 Punj & Har 36) wherein it was observed (at p. 39 of (AIR):--

' **** The order for the suspension of the petitioner was passed during the pendency of the enquiry which had been ordered by the Director of Panchayats under Section 102(2) of the Act by means of his letter dated November 30, 1971. It was not necessary for the Deputy Commissioner to issue notice to the petitioner before passing the order of suspension to show cause against the proposed order.'

11. It is, therefore, plain that the view expressed in both Shadipur Co-operative Society (C.W.P. No. 8358 of 1976, D/- 29-1-1976 Punj) and Angrej Singh's cases (1978 Punj LJ 15) (supra) is not sustainable on a close analysis of the relevant provisions, on an examination on principle, and on the weight of authority within this Court. We are, therefore, constrained to overrule both the judgments as not laying down the law correctly.

12. The only contention raised on behalf of the petitioners having been negatived, there is no merit in this writ petition which is consequently dismissed. However, we would leave the parties to bear their own costs.

13. Petition dismissed.


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