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Jessop's Co-operative Society Ltd. and Ors. Vs. Registrar of Co-operative Societies, W.B. and Ors. (17.03.1976 - CALHC) - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTrusts and Societies
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMatter No. 284 of 1975
Judge
Reported inAIR1976Cal309,80CWN917
ActsWest Bengal Co-operative Societies Act, 1973 - Sections 86, 86(1), 87, 132 and 141; ;Co-operative Societies Act, 1912; ;Bengal Co-operative Societies Act, 1940
AppellantJessop's Co-operative Society Ltd. and Ors.
RespondentRegistrar of Co-operative Societies, W.B. and Ors.
Appellant AdvocateI.P. Mukherjee, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateSomnath Chatterjee, Adv. (for No. 5) and ;P.P. Ghosh, Adv. (for Nos. 1 to 4)
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredDeccan Merchant Cooperative Bank Ltd. v. Dalichand Jugraj Jain
Excerpt:
- ordera.n. sen, j.1. an interesting question of some importance involving the interpretation of section 86 of the west bengal cooperative societies act, 1973 arises for consideration in this writ proceeding.2. jessop's co-operative society ltd. (hereinafter referred to as the society) is a duly registered society and as such is a body corporate. ajit narayan sinha, the respondent no. 5 herein, is a member of the society. ajit narayan sinha disputed the validity of the notice dated 5th of may, 1975 for holding the annual general meeting dated 20th of may, 1975 of the society, the proceedings of the said annual general meeting, re-constitution of the managing committee at the said meeting and the election of the office bearers of the managing committee on various grounds. he referred the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

A.N. Sen, J.

1. An interesting question of some importance involving the interpretation of Section 86 of the West Bengal Cooperative Societies Act, 1973 arises for consideration in this writ proceeding.

2. Jessop's Co-operative Society Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as the Society) is a duly registered Society and as such is a body corporate. Ajit Narayan Sinha, the respondent No. 5 herein, is a member of the Society. Ajit Narayan Sinha disputed the validity of the notice dated 5th of May, 1975 for holding the annual general meeting dated 20th of May, 1975 of the Society, the proceedings of the said annual general meeting, re-constitution of the Managing Committee at the said meeting and the election of the office bearers of the Managing Committee on various grounds. He referred the disputes in accordance with the provisions contained in Section 86 of the West Bengal Co-operative Societies Act, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) and he filed a plaint verified by him on the 19th of June, 1975 before the Assistant Registrar Co-operative Societies. Shri D. K. Sanyal Co-operative Development Officer (Arbitration) II Cal was appointed the Arbitrator to decide the disputes in terms of the provisions contained in Section 87 of the Act, The case was numbered as Dispute Case No. 50/Cal of 1974-75. The parties to the said case were Ajit Narayan Sinha who was the plaintiff in the case, and the Society, the Managing Committee of the Society, Shri Santosh Kumar Sengupta, Chairman of the Society and Shri Nemai Dulal Sinha, the Hony. Secretary of the Society, who were all made defendants. In the said case the plaintiff Ajit Narayan Sinha prayed on the basis of the averments made in the plaint:

'In the circumstances, stated herein-above the Plaintiff prays that your Honour may be graciously pleased to set aside the impugned notice dated 5th May 1975, proceedings of the Annual General Meeting dated 20th May 1975, reconstitution of the Managing Committee at the meeting dated 20th May 1975 and impugned election of office bearers of the impugned reconstituted Managing Committee on the grounds mentioned hereinabove.'

3. A statement of defence was filed on behalf of the defendants in answer to the plaint filed by the plaintiff Ajit Narayan Sinha. In the written statement of defence it was contended on behalf of the defendants in paragraph 1:

'The defendants submit that the disputes purported to be raised by Sri Ajit Narayan Sinha describing himself as the plaintiff abovenamed as detailed in paragraph 9 of the application for purposes of reference of the disputes wrongly described as plaint as also in the prayer thereof, viz., the matter relating to the notice dated the 5th May 1975, proceeding of the Annual General Meeting, dated the 20th May 1975, the Annual General Meeting, election of directors, reconstitution of the Managing Committee at the meeting dated 20th May 1975 and election of the office bearers of the reconstituted Managing Committee are not disputes relating to the affairs of the Jessop's Co-operative Society Ltd., the alleged defendant No. 1 abovenamed, nor is Messrs. Jessop's Co-operative Society Ltd. a party to any of the said disputes. As such, the said disputes nor any of them can be legally referred to the Registrar of Cooperative Societies, Calcutta under Section 86 of the West Bengal Co-operative Societies Act. 1973. And the Registrar has no jurisdiction to entertain any such purported reference and to transfer the same to any Arbitrator under Section 87 (1) (c) of the said Act.'

4. On the application of the defendants a preliminary issue as to jurisdiction was raised and considered by the Arbitrator. By an order passed by the Arbitrator on 19-8-1975, the Arbitrator held that he had jurisdiction to decide the suit. In his order the Arbitrator has stated--

'In its petition dated 21-7-1975 the defendants have raised certain points as to the jurisdiction of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies to refer the instant suit for arbitration under Section 86 of the W. B. C. S. Act, 1973. The petition was heard. The contention of the defendant is that the matter relating to holding of general meeting issue of notice thereof, constitution and/or reconstitution of the Managing Committee and election of office bearers are not matters relating to affairs of the defendant society.'

The Arbitrator in his order considered the argument advanced on behalf of the parties and the various authorities which were cited before him. The Arbitrator has held--

'The 'affairs' has a wider meaning than 'Business' as is evident from the above observation of the Hon'ble Supreme Court The affairs of a Co-operative Society are the affairs contemplated under the Co-operative Societies Act, the Rules framed thereunder and the Bye-laws. Holding of general meeting of a co-operative society, issue of notice thereof, constitution and/or reconstitution of managing committee and election of office bearers are all the affairs of a co-operative Society regulated by Co-operative Societies Act, Rules and the Bye-laws. The matters of instant suit being the affairs of the defendant society relating to holding of general meeting, issue of notice thereof, constitution and/or reconstitution of managing committee and election of office bearers are to be regulated by the provisions of the West Bengal Co-operative Societies Act, 1973, the West Bengal Co-operative Societies Rules, 1974 and the registered bye-laws of the defendant society. Therefore, I hold that the instant suit in dispute is within the meaning of Section 86 (1) of the W. B. C S. Act, 1973 and the learned Assistant Registrar of Co-operative Societies, Calcutta is competent to appoint Arbitrator under Section 87 (1) (c) of the W. B. C. S. Act, 1973 and I have jurisdiction to decide the instant suit.'

5. The validity of the said decision of the Arbitrator has been questioned in this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. The grounds on which the said decision has been challenged have been set out in paragraph 27 of the petition.

6. Mr. I. P. Mukherjee, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioners in support of this application, has submitted that on a true construction of Section 86 of the Act, the subject-matter of the dispute Case No. 50/Cal. 1974-75 pending before the Arbitrator on the reference of the Registrar under Section 87 Of the Act cannot be construed to mean and constitute disputes relating to the affairs of the Society which can be referred to the Registrar. It is his submission that the dispute raised by Ajit Narayan Simha in the instant case relates to the validity of the notice dated 5th May 1975 for the Annual General Meeting held on the 20th of May 1975, to the legality of the proceedings of the Annual General Meeting held on 20th May 1975 and to the legality of reconstitution of the Managing Committee at the said Annual General Meeting and the election of office bearers of the reconstituted Managing Committee and this dispute cannot be considered to be any dispute relating to the affairs of the Society. Mr. Mukherjee has argued that the affairs of the Society must be construed to mean societies 'concerns in trade or property'. Mr. Mukherjee contends that the word, 'affairs' has not been defined in the Act and the word should, therefore, be given the meaning in which it is understood in the legal sense in English language. In this connection Mr. Mukherjee has referred to the meaning of: the word in Earl Jowitt's 'Dictionary of English Law' and has drawn my attention to the meaning of the word in Vol. I at p. 78 where the meaning of the word 'Affairs' is given as 'A person's concerns in trade and property'. Mr. Mukherjee has also drawn my attention to the meaning of the word 'Business' at page 294 of the same Volume and the meaning attributed to business is 'Wider term than trade'. Mr. Mukherjee has also drawn my attention to the meaning of the word 'Affairs' in Wharton's Lexicon '14th Edition' and at page 38 the word 'Affairs' has been given the same meaning 'A person's concerns in trade or property', as in Earl Jowitt's 'Dictionary of English Law'. It is the argument of Mr. Mukherjee that a dispute with regard to the validity of the notice of the Annual General Meeting and the legality and the proceedings thereof cannot be said to constitute a dispute relating to the affairs of the Society, as the notice of the Annual General Meeting, the holding of the Annual General Meeting, the proceedings of the Annual General Meeting, the reconstitution of the Managing Committee at the meeting and the election of the office bearers are not concerns of the society in its trade and property. Mr. Mukherjee has drawn my attention to the Bye-law which provides for the objects of the Society and the objects of the Society as set out in the Bye-laws of the Society are:

'4 (1) The objects of the Society are-

(a) Primarily to create funds to be lent to members; and

(b) To provide facilities for the exercise of, thrift and savings and

(c) Generally to encourage self-help and mutual aid among members.

(2) In furtherance of the above objects the Society shall be at liberty--

(a) To receive money by way of deposits from members only and to receive money by way of loans from members, non-members or any other source and to secure repayment thereof either by mortgaging, assigning or pleadging the properties of Society or otherwise.

(b) To establish a 'provident fund' for members and to make suitable contributions' to such fund out of the profits;

(c) To purchase, take on lease or in exchange or otherwise acquire lands, buildings or any movable or immovable property necessary for the business of Society; and

(d) Generally to do all such other things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of its objects.'

7. Mr. Mukherjee argues that the objects of the Society clearly indicate the nature of trade to be carried on by the Society and the holding of the Annual General Meeting, constituting the Managing Committee and the election of the office bearers of the Society are clearly not the society's concerns in trade and property. Mr. Mukherjee has submitted that under the provisions of the old Acts, namely, the Co-operative Societies Act, 1912 (hereinafter referred to as the Act of 1912) and the Bengal Co-operative Societies Act of 1940 prior to its amendment in 1965 (hereinafter referred to as the Act of 1940) a dispute touching the business of the Society between members or past members of the Society or persons claiming through a member or past member or between member or past member or persons so claiming and the Committee or any officer could be referred to the Registrar. He submits that the words 'touching the business of a Society' came up for consideration before this Court in a number of cases and three Division Benches of this Court have held that on a true construction of the said words 'touching the business of the Society' any dispute with regard to the legality and validity of the Constitution of the Managing Committee cannot be considered to be a dispute touching the business of the Society. In this connection he has referred to the decisions (1) in the case of Ramendra Nath v. Balurghat Central Co-operative Bank Ltd. reported in AIR 1932 Cal 317, (2) in the case of Barisal Co-operative Central Bank Ltd. v. Benoy Bhusan Gupta reported in AIR 1934 Cal 537 and (3) in the case of Kara Dayal Nag v. Chandpur Central Co-operative Bank Ltd. reported in AIR 1938 Cal 394.

8. He has placed particular reliance on the following observations of Rankin, C. J. in Ramendra Nath Mukherjee's case AIR 1932 Cal 317 at page 319 --'... ... ... ... but I cannot regard a question whether the plaintiff is or is not a shareholder, whether the Society-'s new constitution is valid or invalid, whether it is in effect of the 'mixed' or 'pure' type, as a mere dispute between members or between a member and an officer 'touching the business of the Society' '. Mr. Mukherjee has submitted that this decision has been referred to and followed in the other two decisions reported in AIR 1934 Cal 537 and AIR 1938 Cal 394 and similar views have been expressed in the said decisions. Mr. Mukherjee in this connection has also referred to the decision in the case of Heard v. Pickthorne, (1913) 3 KB 299, MC Ellistrim v. Bally Macelligott Co-operative Agricultural and Dairy Society Ltd., (1919) AC 548 and also in the case of Ruinn and National Catholic Benefit and Thrift Societies Arbitration, (1921) 2 Ch 318. It mav be noticed that all these decisions have been considered in the judgment of Rankin, C. J. in the case of Ramendra Nath v. Balurghat Central Co-operative Bank Ltd.. reported in AIR 1'932 Cal 317. Mr. Mukherjee has submitted that in the Bengal Co-operative Societies Act of 1940 the words used in Section 86 of the Act were 'any dispute touching the business of a Co-operative Society' and were similar to the words used in the Act of 1912. Mr. Mukherjee has referred to the decision of P. B. Mukharji, J. in the case of Co-operative Milk Societies Union Ltd. v. State of West Bengal, : (1958)IILLJ61Cal , to the decision of the Division Bench of the Court in the case of South Eastern Rly. Employees Co-operative Urban Bank v. Presiding Officer, 1st Industrial Tribunal, (1972) 76 Cal WN 562 and also to the decision of S. C. Ghose, J. in the case of Sm. Bina Das v. Registrar, Co-operative Societies, (1973) 77 Cal WN 455 and he has submitted that in these decisions of this Court the Act of 1940 before its amendment in 1965 came to be considered. Mr. Mukherjee argues that the decisions of P. B. Mukharji, J. and of the Division Bench lend support to his contention and the decision of Ghose, J. which appears to take a contrary view is not correct. Mr. Mukherjee has also referred to the plain meaning of the word 'affairs' as given in Oxford Concise Dictionary (5th Edition) and he has contended that for a proper construction of Section 86 of the Act of 1973, the word should not be given its popular meaning in a broad sense and should be given a restricted meaning,, as understood in legal sense as given in Earl Jowitt's 'Dictionary of English Law' and Wharton's 'Law Laxicon'. It is the argument of Mr. Mukherjee that in common parlance the word 'Affairs' and the word 'Business' may mean and cover the same field and by way of example he has mentioned two expressions commonly used, namely 'mind your own business' and 'mind your own affairs'. Mr. Mukherjee has contended that the change in the language brought about by the amendment of 1965 by introducing the words 'relating to the affairs' of the Society in place of the words 'touching the business' of the Society does not indicate or establish the intention of the Legislature to bring about any change in the existing law as established by the various decisions of this Court starting from the decision of Rankin, C.J. in AIR 1932 Cal 371. It is the contention of Mr. Mukherjee that if the Legislature wanted to bring about a change in the existing law and the legislative intent was that a dispute relating to the validity of the notice of any general meeting, the holding of the meeting and the proceedings thereof, constitution of the Managing Committee and the election of office bearers would come within the ambit of Section 86 of the Act and could be referred to the Registrar, the Legislature would have made clear provisions to this effect in the way as has been done by the Legislature in passing the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act. In this connection Mr. Mukherjee has referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Deccan Merchants Co-operative Bank Ltd. v. Dalichand Jugraj Jain, : [1969]1SCR887 and he has commented that this decision of the Supreme Court which was concerned with the construction of Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, is of no assistance in the instant case. It is his comment that the Supreme Court had so decided in this case in view of the specific provisions contained in Section 91 of the said Act. Mr. Mukherjee has argued that if the Legislature intends to oust the ordinary jurisdiction of Civil Courts, the Legislature must make its intention manifestly clear. Unless the legislative intent to oust the jurisdiction of Civil Courts is made manifestly clear, argues Mr. Mukherjee, the Court should proceed to hold that the ordinary jurisdiction of Civil Courts has not been taken away. He contends that any Legislation which seeks to take away ordinary jurisdiction of Civil Courts has to be strictly construed and if the Legislature has not been sufficiently articulate in expressing its intention, the Court should not presume any such legislative intention and should not proceed to construe the provisions on the basis of such presumption. In support of this contention Mr. Mukherjee has drawn my attention to Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, to Halsbury's Laws of England, 3rd Edition, Vol. 9, Article 825 at pages 352-353 and to the decision of the House of Lords in the case of Maunsell v. Olins reported in 1975 AC 373 and he has placed particular reliance on the observations of Lord Simon at page 392. Mr. Mukherjee handed over to Court written notes of his submissions and I direct that the same should be kept in the records of the proceeding.

9. Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent No. 5 Ajit Narayan Sinha who has referred the disputes to the Registrar and who is the plaintiff in the Dispute case now pending before the Arbitrator, has submitted before me that the order of the Arbitrator holding that the Arbitrator has jurisdiction to decide the disputes which form the subject-matter of the proceeding before the Arbitrator, is perfectly valid, as the disputes relate to the affairs of the Society and clearly come within the purview of the Act of 1973. Mr. Chatterjee contends that the words 'relating to the affairs' of the Society has a much wider connotation than the words 'touching the business' of the Society. It is his contention that the words 'relating to the affairs' of the Society cover every sphere of activity of the Society whether it appertains to its business activity in its narrow sense or not. Mr. Chatterjee argues that the Legislature must be presumed to have knowledge of the state of law as it existed under the provisions of the Act of 1912 and also the Act of 1940 prior to its amendment on the basis of the various decisions of this Court. It is his submission that the Legislature has deliberately, brought about a change in the language of the Section by the amendment of 1965 to the Act of 1940 by using the words 'relating to the affairs' of the Society which were introduced by way of amendment and the said words 'relating to the affairs' of the Society which were first introduced by the amendment to the Act of 1940 in 1965 and which have been used in the present Act, are clearly different from the words used in the Act of 1912 and also in the Act of 1940 prior to its amendment in 1965. Mr. Chatterjee submits that if the Legislature did not want to bring about any change in the law as established by the decisions of this Court on the basis of the interpretation of the provisions contained in the Act of 1912 and also in the Act of 1940 prior to its amendment, the Legislature would certainly not have considered it necessary to amend the Act of 1940 in 1965 by substituting the words 'relating to the- affairs' of the Society, in place of the words 'touching the business of the Society' and would also not have incorporated the said words 'relating to the affairs of the Society' in the present Act of 1973. Mr. Chatterjee contends that the purpose of deleting the words 'touching the business' of the Society and introducing in their 'place the words, 'relating to the affairs' of the Society must necessarily be to bring about a change in the existing law Mr. Chatterjee has submitted that as the decisions relied on by Mr. Mukherjee are concerned with the interpretation of the -provisions contained in the Act of 1912 and also in the Act of 1940 before its amendment and as the words used in the said Acts were 'touching the business of the Society', entirely different from the words used in the present Act, the said decisions are indeed of no assistance in construing the present Act. Mr. Chatterjee argues that it is well established that in construing any particular statute, the words used must be given their ordinary meaning, unless in the context or otherwise in the statute, there is definite indication to suggest that ordinary meaning should not be given to the word used in the Act. Mr. Chatterjee has argued that as the ordinary meaning of the word 'affairs' is very vide and is wide enough to cover every aspect and sphere of activity, the legislature has not chosen to give any definition of the word in the Act. Mr. Chatterjee has argued that the legislative intent is made manifestly clear by the change in the language in the section and by introducing words of very wide import, connotation and significance in place of words which had a restricted meaning and it is his contention that the provisions of Section 86 of the Act, particularly the proviso contained therein, make this intention absolutely clear. Mr. Chatterjee has drawn my attention to the provisions contained in Section 26 (b) of the Act of 1973 and also to certain other sections and he has contended that in the Act of 1973 the word 'affairs' cannot be equated with the word 'business' and the Legislature never intended to use the word 'affairs' as a synonym for the word 'business' used in the Act of 1912 and also in the Act of 1940 prior to its amendment.

10. Mr. Chatterjee has argued that the word 'affairs' has a much wider connotation and will generally include every affair of the Society whether it relates to its objects, to its constitution, to the holding of meetings, to the constitution of the Managing Committee or the election of office bearers and directors. Mr Chatterjee in this connection has drawn my attention to the provisions contained in the Bye-laws of the Society and particularly to the provisions contained in Bye-laws 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55 and 56. He has argued that unless the general meeting, and the election of the Managing Committee were considered to be the affairs of the Society, these provisions could not have found any place in the Bye-laws of the Society. Bye-laws of the Society, argues Mr. Ohatterjee, only make provision relating to affairs of the Society. Mr. Chatteriee has argued that there is nothing in the statute to indicate that the word 'affairs' in Section 86 of the Act should be construed in any narrow sense and the Legislature has made specific provision in the said section itself as to what only is not intended to constitute an affair of the Society for the purpose of the said section in the proviso to Section 86 Itself. Mr. Chatterjee has submitted that the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Deccan Merchants Co-operative Bank Ltd. v. Dalichand Jugraj Jain, : [1969]1SCR887 , though concerned with the construction of the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, clearly indicates what is the true meaning of the word 'affairs' which should be attributed to the word used in Section 86 of the Act. He has placed particular reliance on the following observations of the Supreme Court at page 1325--

'The answer depends on the words used in the Act. Although number of cases have been cited to us on similar expressions contained in various other Acts, both Indian and English, in the first instance, it is advisable to restrict the enquiry to the terms of the enactment itself, because the legislatures have been changing the words and expanding the scope of references to arbitrators or to the Registrars step by step. The sentence, namely, 'notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force' clearly ousts the jurisdiction of Civil Courts if the dispute falls squarely within the ambit of Section 91 (1). Five kinds of disputes are mentioned in Sub-section (1); first, disputes touching the constitution of a society; secondly, disputes touching election of the office-bearers of a society; thirdly, disputes touching the conduct of general meetings of a society; fourthly, disputes touching the management of a society; and fifthly, disputes touching the business of a society. It is clear that the word 'business' in this context does not mean affairs of a society because election of office-bearers, conduct of general meetings and management of a society would be treated as affairs of a society. In this sub-section the word 'business' has been used in a narrower sense and it means the actual trading or commercial or other similar business activity of the society which the society is authorised to enter into under the Act and the Rules and its bye-laws.'

11. Mr. Chatterjee has submitted that the principles of construction of statute relating to ouster of jurisdiction of the Civil Courts are well settled. It is, however, his submission that Section 132 (2) (d) and Section 141 of the Act clearly establish the ouster of jurisdiction of the Civil Courts in case of any dispute which is covered by Section 86 of the Act. According to Mr. Chatterjee the disputes which form the subject-matter of the Dispute Case No. 50/Cal. of 1974-75 before the Arbitrator clearly relate to affairs of the Society and come within the purview of Section 86 of the Act and the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts is clearly and expressly taken away by virtue of the provisions contained in Section 132 (2) (d) and Section 141 of the Act.

12. Mr. P. P. Ghosh, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents Nos. 1 to 4 has adopted the arguments advanced, by Mr. Chatterjee and he has submitted that the words 'relating to the affairs' of the Society used in the Act of 1973 cannot be given the same meaning as the words 'touching the business' of the society used in the Act of 1912 and also in the Act of 1940 prior to its amendment for the following reasons--

(1) Deliberate change in the language indicates that the Legislature did not want that these words should be used in the same sense as the words used in the Act of 1912 and in the Act of 1940 before its amendment. Unless the Legislature intended to bring about a change in the existing law as established by the interpretation of this Court in the various decisions relied on by Mr. Mukherjee, there will be no sense in changing the words which have been interpreted by this Court and have been given a definite meaning.

(2) The proviso to Section 86 shows the legislative intent. The proviso had been incorporated as in the absence of the provisions contained in the proviso, disputes relating to matters mentioned in the proviso would also become disputes relating to the affairs of the Society.

(3) The Legislature has expressly used both the words business and affairs in other sections of the Act. The two words must, therefore, denote different connotations and cannot have the same meaning. In this connection he has referred to Section 26 (1) (b) of the Act.

(4) The Judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Deccan Merchants Co-operative Bank Ltd. v. Dalichand Jugraj Jain reported in : [1969]1SCR887 lays down that the word 'affairs' has a wider meaning and has a wider connotation than the word 'business'. Mr. Ghosh in this connection has also referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Co-operative Central Bank Ltd. v. Additional Industrial Tribunal, Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad reported in : (1969)IILLJ698SC .

13. Mr. Ghosh has also contended that Section 132 (2) (d) read with Section 141 of the Act clearly has the effect of introducing the non obstante clause which was referred to and considered by the Supreme Court in its decision in : [1969]1SCR887 .

14. The only question which falls for determination in the instant case is whether on a true construction of Section 86 of the Act the disputes which have been referred to the Registrar by the respondent No. 5 Ajit Narayan Sinha and which form the subject-matter of the dispute case pending the Arbitrator are disputes relating to the affairs of the Society within the meaning of the said section and are covered by the said section. The real question which therefore arises on the interpretation of Section 86 of the Act is -- 'what is the meaning of the expression 'relating to the affairs of the Society' used in the said section ?'

15. Section 86 of the Act reads as follows':

'86 (1) Any dispute relating to the affairs of a Co-operative Society or of the liquidator of a society shall be referred to the Registrar if the parties thereto are among the following, namely:--

(a) the society, its managing committee, any past or present officer, agent of employee or the liquidator of the society; or

(b) a member, past member or person claiming through a member, past member or deceased member of the society; or

(c) a surety of a member, past member or deceased member of the society, whether such surety is or is not a member of the society; or

(d) any other co-operative society or any person having transactions with the concerned co-operative society or the liquidator of such society:

Provided that nothing in this subsection shall apply to any dispute--

(a) regarding disciplinary action taken by a society or its managing committee against its paid employees or

(b) between a society or its managing committee and its paid employees over terms and conditions of service of such employees and matters incidental or consequential thereto.

(2) Any dispute mentioned in Sub-section (1), other than a dispute relating to the recovery of money shall be referred to the Registrar within one month from the date of the cause of action.' It is also necessary to set out certain other provisions of the Act. Section 2 (q) defines dispute to mean 'any matter capable of being the subject of civil litigation, and includes a claim in respect of any sum payable to or by a Co-operative society, whether such claim be admitted or not'.' Sections 24 and 25 of the Act may be set out:

'24. The State Government may, on the application of a co-operative society supported by a resolution of the managing committee or the general body of members of the society or on the recommendation of the Registrar and on such conditions as may be prescribed, depute a Government officer to the service of the society for the purpose of managing its affairs, and the officer of the Government so deputed shall exercise such powers and perform such duties as may be prescribed: Provided that the Registrar may, on the application of a Co-operative society supported by a resolution of the managing committee or the general body of members of the society or of his own motion, depute a Government officer, in respect of whom he is the appointing authority, to the service of the society for the aforesaid purposes, and the officer of the Government so deputed shall exercise such powers and perform such duties as may be prescribed.

25. (1) If the Registrar is satisfied, for reasons to be recorded by him in writing, that the managing committee of a co-operative society is mismanaging its affairs, he may, under Clause (b) of Sub-section (1) of Section 22, direct that, within such time as he may determine, a special general meeting of the society shall be held to dissolve and reconstitute the managing committee.

Explanation.--In this sub-section, the expression 'mismanaging its affairs' includes wilfully disobeying or wilfully failing to comply with any lawful order or direction issued by the State Government or the Registrar.

(2) In any direction given under Sub-section (1), the Registrar may, for reasons to be recorded by him in writing order that all or any of the members of the out-going managing committee shall, for such period not exceeding three years as he may determine, be disqualified for election or appointment as an officer of the society.

(3) If the managing committee is not dissolved and reconstituted within the time determined, and in such manner as may be directed by the Registrar under Sub-section (1), the Registrar may, by order dissolve the managing committee, and the members thereof shall forthwith vacate their offices and the Registrar shall thereupon appoint a managing committee with the nominees, if any, of the State Government on the managing committee which has been dissolved and with such members of the co-operative society as he thinks fit, to manage the affairs of the cooperative society for such period not exceeding one year, and to arrange for the constitution of a new management committee by such date as the Registrar may determine

(4) An order under Sub-section (3) shall be in writing shall set forth the reasons for which they are made, and shall be made only after an opportunity has been given to tihe defaulting managing committee to state its objections, if any, thereto.'

16. Provisions of Section 26 of the Act relevant for the purpose of the present application read as follows:--

'26 (1) If, in the opinion of the Registrar,--

(a) the managing committee of any co-operative society

(i) has persistently made defaults, or has been grossly negligent, in the performance of the duties imposed on it by this Act or the rules or bye-laws, or

(ii) has committed any act which is prejudicial to the interest of such society or other co-operative societies, or

(iii) has wilfully disobeyed or wilfully failed to comply with any lawful order or direction issued by the State Government or the Registrar or

(b) the affairs and business of a cooperative society have, due to persistent default or negligence in the performance of duties on the part of the members of the managing committee or a section thereof, or otherwise, come to a standstill, the Registrar may, after service of a notice upon such committee and giving such committee an opportunity of being heard, by an order in writing stating reasons therefor, dissolve such committee, the members of which shall forthwith vacate their offices and the Registrar shall appoint one or more administrators to manage the affairs of such society for such period not exceeding two years at a time as may be specified in the order and may also by an order in writing extend the period so, however, that the total period shall not exceed five years :'

16-A. Section 132 (2)(d) provides:

'Save as provided in this Act, no Civil or Revenue Court shall have any jurisdiction in respect of--

(d) any dispute required under Section 86 to be referred to the Registrar; or'.

17. Section 141 of the Act is in the following terms:

'141. This Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law for the time being in force or in any contract expressed or implied or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any enactment other than this law and notwithstanding any usage or custom to the contrary.'

18. The principles of construction of a statute are well settled. The principles of construction require that the true legislative intent has to be determined. The intention of the legislature has, however, to be gathered primarily from the language used in the statute. In construing any statute any word used in the statute should generally be given its plain and ordinary meaning unless any contrary intention appears expressly or by necessary implication. In appropriate cases, true interpretation may require giving any particular word a special meaning for ascertainment of the true intention of the Legislature.

19. It is also well settled that the decisions on the construction of a particular statute are of no real assistance in construing another statute unless the statutes are in pari materia.

20. The decisions relied on by Mr. Mukherjee will not be of any great assistance, unless it can be held that the words 'relating to the affairs' of the society used in the present Act convey the same meaning and sense as the words 'touching the business' of the society, used in the earlier Act of 1912 and the Act of 1940 prior to its amendment. It may be noted that in none of these decisions the words 'relating to the affairs' of the society came to be considered and the Act of 1940 after its amendment in 1965 did not fall for consideration in any of the cases cited from the Bar.

21. In my opinion, it will not be proper to construe the words 'relating to the affairs' of the society used in the Act of 1973 to have the same meaning as the words 'touching the business' of the society used in the Act of 1912 and the Act of 1940 prior to its amendment. The Legislature must be presumed to have been aware of the provisions contained in the Act of 1912 and also in the Act of 1940. The Legislature must also be presumed to know of the various decisions interpreting the said words 'touching the business' of the society. On the basis of the interpretation given by the Courts to the words 'touching the business' of the society, the law must be considered to be fairly settled as to the true meaning, effect and import of the words 'touching the business' of the society used in the Act of 1912 and also in the Act of 1940 prior to its amendment. The Legislature in its wisdom thought it fit to amend the provisions of the Act of 1940 in 1965 by deleting the words 'touching the business' of the society and introducing the words 'relating to the affairs' of the society. This deliberate change in the legislation by this amendment must have been introduced by the Legislature for the purpose of changing the law, as it stood prior to the amendment. If the Legislature did not intend to bring about a change in the existing law as settled by various decisions of the Courts, there could be no purpose of effecting the amendment and the Legislature would certainly have allowed the words 'touching the business' of the society to remain, particularly as the said words have already been judicially interpreted. I must, therefore, hold that the words 'relating to the affairs' of the society introduced in the Act of 1940 after amendment cannot and do not have the same meaning, import and effect as the words 'touching the business' of the society which were there in the Act of 1912 and also in the Act of 1940 before its amendment in 1965. The legislature has thought it fit to retain in the present Act of 1973 the words 'relating to the affairs' of the society introduced by amendment to the Act of 1940 in 1965. In that view of the matter the decisions relied on by Mr. Mukherjee on the interpretation of the words 'touching the business' of the society are of no real assistance in construing the present Act.

22. The words 'relating to the affairs' of the Society must be held, in my opinion, to have a much wider import than the words 'touching the business' of the society. The words 'relating to the affairs' of the society have a much larger connotation and must be held to be wide enough to cover every sphere of activity of the society whether the activity relates to the business of the society in its narrow sense of trade and property, the management of the society, the administration of the society and the running of the society. The plain meaning of the word 'Affair' as given in the Oxford Concise Dictionary (5th Edition) reads: 'Thing to be done; concern, business, matter, as that is my...; love............; (pl) ordinary pursuits of ife.' In Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary (2nd Edition) 'Affair' has been defined to mean '(1) business of any kind; that which is done or is to be done, (2) (pl) transactions in general as, human affairs, political or ecclesiastical affairs, public affairs, a man of affairs, (3) (pl) matters of business, (4) any matter, occurrence or thing, (5) (from love affair) an amorous relationship or episode between two people not married to each other; and amour,'

The plain ordinary meaning of the word 'affair' as understood in common parlance is therefore wide enough, to cover every aspect of activity. The meaning of the word as given in Earl Jowitt's 'Dictionary of English Law' and in Wharton's 'Law Lexicon' which I have already noted, does not suggest that the word has any narrower connotation and is confined to any activity relating only to business or property. The meaning given in Earl Jowitt's Dictionary of English Law and also in Wharton's Law Lexicon is 'a person's concerns in trade and property'. A person's concerns in trade and property are not the same thing as the person's trade and property and a person's concerns in trade and property have a much larger sphere of activity and have a much wider connotation. The decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Deccan Merchant Cooperative Bank Ltd. v. Dalichand Jugraj Jain, : [1969]1SCR887 , to my mind, lends support to the view that the word 'affairs' ordinarily understood has a wider connotation than the word business construed in the narrow sense of trade and commerce only and the affairs of a society would ordinarily include the holding of annual and other general meetings, the constitution of its managing committee, the election of office bearers and management of the society. I have already quoted the relevant observations of the Supreme Court and the following observations of the Supreme Court at page 1325 in this connection may be particularly noted:

'It is clear that the word 'business' in this context does not mean affairs of a society because election of office bearers, conduct of general meetings and management of a society would be treated as affairs of a society..'

23. Apart from this aspect of the Legislature introducing a deliberate change in the language by inserting and using words of wider significance and import, the provisions contained in the Act, to my mind, clearly establish that the Legislature did not intend the words 'relating to the affairs' of the society to signify and mean the same thing as the words 'touching the business' of the society. The provisions of the Act clearly indicate that the Legislature intended that the words 'relating to the affairs' of the society would be wide enough to cover all matters concerning the society and the words 'any dispute relating to affairs of a Co-operative Society' would cover all disputes concerning all matters of the society other than those specifically excluded by the Act itself. Sections 24, 25 and 26 of the Act which I have already set out, clearly go to indicate that the word 'affairs' cannot be given the same meaning as the word 'business' in its narrow and restricted sense of trade and commerce. The proviso to Section 86 of the Act which I have already noted makes the intention of the Legislature clear beyond any doubt. The proviso makes it clear that the matters mentioned in the proviso would be affairs of the society and it was therefore necessary to introduce the proviso as the Legislature intended to exclude the matters mentioned therein from the purview of Section 86 (1) as otherwise the matters mentioned in the proviso would be affairs of the society and would be covered by Section 86 (1) of the Act. To take the matters mentioned in the proviso out of the purview of Section 86 (1) of the Act, as in the absence of the proviso, the said matters would be covered by Section 86 (1) of the Act as affairs of the society, the proviso had to be incorporated. The terms of the enactment sufficiently manifest the intention of the Legislature and make it abundantly clear that affairs of the society will cover all matters concerning the society unless any matters are specifically excluded. The bye-laws of the society, to my mind, also support this construction. The bye-laws deal with and make provisions for all affairs relating to the society. The bye-laws make necessary provisions as to the holding of the annual general meeting, notice of the annual general meeting, election of the Managing Committee and office bearers of the society. Unless these were affairs of the society I fail to understand why any provision with regard to the same will be made in the bye-laws of the society. It appears to me to be inconceivable that the holding of the annual general meeting and the election of the Managing Committee and the office bearers of the society are not affairs of the society.

24. The subject-matter of the disputes which were referred to the Registrar under Section 86 (1) of the Act and which are pending adjudication in the dispute case before the Arbitrator must, therefore, be held to relate to the affairs of the society. The disputes are, therefore, clearly covered by Section 86 (1) of the Act and the order of the Arbitrator holding that he has jurisdiction to decide the disputes, must therefore be upheld. It is not in dispute that the requirements of the Act are otherwise complied with.

25. It may be noticed that in the larger interest of the Co-operative Societies and for speedy disposal of any dispute relating to the affairs of a Co-operative Society, the Legislatures have been changing the words in the enactment and have been expanding the scope of reference to the Registrar or to the Arbitrators in terms of the provisions of the Acts. The provision contained in Section 87 (4) of the Act directing all disputes referred to the Registrar to be decided within three months from the date of receipt of such disputes by the Registrar clearly indicates that it is the intention of the Legislature that such disputes should be expeditiously disposed of. For achieving this purpose the Legislature has thought it fit to take away the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts. It is well settled that any enactment curtailing or taking away the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts has to be strictly construed. It is also well settled that unless the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts is taken away, expressly or by necessary implication, by any statute, it must be held that the Civil Court retains the jurisdiction to decide the matter. In the instant case the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts is unequivocally and clearly taken away in express terms by the provisions contained in Section 132 (2) (d) and Section 141 of the W.B. Co-operative Societies Act.

26. In the result this petition fails. The Rule is discharged. Interim orders, if any, are all vacated. There will be no order as to costs.


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