G. Ramanujam, J.
1. The petitioner is the President of Vattamalaipalayam Co-operative Milk Supply Society. He is also a Member of the Tudaiyalur Co-operative Agricultural Services Ltd., and also a member of the Committee of its management. In his capacity as the President of Vattamalaipalayam Co-operative Milk Supply Society, the petitioner has been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment till, the rising of the Court and a fine of Rs. 500 in C.C. No. 335 of 1973 for the sale of adulterated milk by a salesman of the Society. Taking note of the conviction of the petitioner in the said case, the Registrar of the Co-operative Societies (third respondent herein) has informed the first respondent, the President of the Society, that the petitioner has ceased to be a member of the society as a result of the said conviction which involves a moral turpitude by a letter dated 28th April, 1975. In pursuance of the above direction, the Society sent the impugned communication dated 9th May, 1975 whereby the petitioner was informed that he ceased to be a member of the Society from 21st September, 1974 the date of judgment in C.C. No. 335 of 1973. The petitioner seeks a certiorari filed mandamus from this Court setting aside the order of the first respondent dated 9th May, 1975 and restoring him as a member of the Society.
2. The petitioner's case is that though he was convicted in C.C. No. 335 of 1973 for an offence under Section 7(1) read with 16(f)(a)(i) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act his conviction was based on the fact that he was the President of the Society and not that he was directly involved in the commission of the offence, that therefore the offence for which he was convicted cannot be said to involve moral turpitude and that, he cannot as such be taken to have ceased to be a member of the Society under Section 18 (2) (b) of the Tamil Nadu Co-operative Societies Act, 1961. The learned Counsel for the petitioner also points out that the impugned order passed by the Society is based on the instructions of the Registrar of Co-operative Societies (the third respondent), that the third respondent has issued the instructions without giving an opportunity to the petitioner to put forward his case and that therefore the direction given by the Registrar of Co-operative Societies should be taken to be violative of the principles of natural justice.
3. Section 18 of the said Act deals with disqualification of members of Co-operative Societies. Section 18(2)(b) says that a member of a registered Society shall cease to be a member if he is sentenced for any offence involving moral turpitude. Therefore, before the petitioner can be taken to have ceased to be a member, it should be established that the petitioner has been convicted for an offence involving moral turpitude. In this case though the petitioner admits that he has been convicted for an offence he says that it was not for an offence involving moral turpitude and therefore, he has not suffered any disqualification under Section 18(2). The question whether the petitioner has suffered disqualification as a result of the conviction in C.C. No. 335 of 1973 has to be decided after due notice to the petitioner who is the party affected. Admittedly, neither the Society nor the Registrar of Co-operative Societies gave any opportunity to the petitioner to put forward his case before holding him to be disqualified.
4. Section 10(4) provides that when any question as to whether a member of a registered Society was or has become, subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in Section 18 shall be decided by the Registrar. Therefore in this case the Registrar has intimated the Society that the writ petitioner has ceased to be a member in view of the conviction under C.C. No. 335 of 1973. The decision has been rendered without notice to the petitioner and without giving him an opportunity. Any decision regarding disqualification by the Registrar under Section 18(4) can only be quasi-judicial as it affects the rights of the member to continue as such in the Society. Therefore, before any decision is rendered by the Registrar, the petitioner must be given an opportunity. As admittedly no notice was given by the Registrar before arriving at a decision that the petitioner has suffered disqualification, the order of the Registrar and the subsequent order passed by the first respondent cannot be allowed to stand.
5. The Writ Petition has, therefore, to be allowed with a direction to the Registrar (third respondent) to decide the question of petitioner's disqualification after giving him due notice and after hearing his objections. With this direction, the writ petition is allowed. The result is the third respondent has to decide the question of disqualification afresh in the manner suggested. Since the matter has been left to the decision of the third respondent, I am not expressing any opinion as to whether the offence for which the petitioner has been convicted involves moral turpitude. No costs.