On June 25, 2023, the Lok Sabha passed the Multi-State Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2022 to enhance transparency in governance and promote ease of doing business in the country’s cooperative sector.
As per the press release, the Union Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Co-operation, Amit Shah said that a university to impart cooperative education would be constituted and a national cooperative policy would be formulated soon to further strengthen the cooperatives.
The provisions under the Bill provide for the speedy disposal of applications, electronic submission of applications, establishment of a Co-operative Election Authority for conducting fair elections, etc. It envisages the appointment of a co-operative information officer to provide information relating to the society’s affairs and management to the members of the society. To ensure due representation, the Bill provides for the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women on the Board (of Directors) of the society.
Further, it makes provision for the redemption of government shares with the prior approval of the government, liquidation after providing an opportunity of being heard to the societies, and enforcement of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 on co-operative banks. The Bill introduces the Cooperative Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, and Development Fund to aid the revival of sick multi-state co-operative societies.
To enable effective redressal of complaints received from members of multi-state co-operative societies, the Bill authorises the Central Government to appoint one or more cooperative ombudsmen with territorial jurisdiction. The ombudsman is obligated to complete the investigation and decision-making process within three months of receipt of the complaint. For challenging the ombudsman’s directions, an appeal would have to be filed before the Central Registrar within one month.