SC reserves verdict on Centre's plea against Guj HC order quashing provisions of 97th amendment

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New Delhi, Jul 8 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on a Centre's plea challenging the Gujarat High Court's 2013 verdict striking down certain provisions of the 97th constitutional amendment while holding that the Parliament cannot enact laws with regard to cooperative societies as it is a state subject.

Intervention applications were also filed in the matter challenging the validity of 97th constitutional amendment, which dealt with effective working of cooperative societies on the ground that it violated the basic structure of federalism.

The 97th constitutional amendment, which dealt with issues related to effective management of the co-operative societies in the country was passed by Parliament in December 2011 and had come into effect from February 15, 2012.

The change in the constitution has amended Article 19(1)(c) to give protection to the cooperatives and inserted Article 43 B and Part IX B, relating to them.

A bench of Justices R F Nariman, K M Joseph and B R Gavai which reserved its verdict on the batch of pleas was told by Attorney General K K Venugopal that the provision does not denudes the States of its power to enact laws with regard to cooperatives.

The top court was hearing appeals filed by Centre and other parties against the Gujarat High Court order of April 22, 2013 by which it had quashed certain provisions of the constitutional amendment.

The top court also examined a question whether the provision denuded states of their exclusive power to enact laws to deal with management of cooperative societies.

Venugopal said, “The 97th Constitution amendment is not direct or substantial attack on the States power to enact law with regard to cooperatives”.

Advocate Ritika Sinha, who appeared for an intervenor, said that the constitutional amendment made a direct in-road into the exclusive domain of States to enact laws with regard to cooperatives.

“The provisions of the amendment is not incidental or indirect but direct and substantial in-road into the State’s exclusive power to enact laws for cooperatives,” she said, adding that the amendment required ratification from the States, if at all any such enactment was to be made.

Sinha said that what Parliament cannot do indirectly, it cannot be allowed to do directly and in doing so it has not followed the procedure laid down in the Constitution.

The top court had on Wednesday told Venugopal that it will examine if the amendment interfered with the exclusive power of the State under Article 246 (3) with regard to enacting law relating to cooperatives as it is the state subject.

The Centre has stated that the amendment was enacted to bring in uniformity in the management of cooperative societies and it does not take away the powers of the State to enact laws with regard to them.

The top court had said if the Centre wanted to achieve uniformity then the only way available was to take the recourse under Article 252 of the Constitution which deals with power of Parliament to legislate for two or more States by consent.

It has said that in effect what the government has done is that the power of States to enact laws with respect to cooperative society has been made no longer exclusive.

Advocate Masoom K Shah, appearing for one Rajendra K Shah has said that the High Court has taken a correct view that certain provisions of the constitution amendment violated the basic structure of federalism as it was not ratified by the States as required under Article 368 of the Constitution.

On April 22, 2013, the High Court, while striking down certain provisions of the 97th constitutional amendment, held that the Parliament cannot enact laws or issue notification with regard to cooperative societies as it is a state subject.

The High Court verdict came on a PIL challenging the legality of the 97th constitutional amendment on the ground that Centre had no legislative competence to enact law for cooperative societies which is exclusively a state subject under the scheme of the Constitution.

The High Court had held that certain provisions of the amendment pertaining to cooperative societies violated the basic structure of federalism.

The PIL petitioner have contended that as per the provisions of Article 368 of the Constitution, if Parliament intends to amend or delete any of the lists in the seventh schedule, such Amendment shall require to be ratified by the legislature of not less than one half of the states by resolution to the effect passed by those legislatures before the bill making provisions for such amendment is presented to the President for Assent. PTI MNL ABA SJK MNL RKS RKS

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