THE BOMBAY High Court passed scathing remarks on the functioning of cooperative societies in Maharashtra, with the Aurangabad bench observing that as the system was controlled by “politically backed” individuals, there was mismanagement and misappropriation of resources and property of these institutions being run for the benefit of the public.
The HC also directed a probe into the leasing of nearly 105 acres of land by a cooperative society controlled by BJP MLC Amrish Patel to a private company owned by his son. Patel is the founding chairperson of a cooperative spinning mill from Dhule district. He was earlier associated with the Congress and served as a minister in the state government. He joined the BJP in 2019.
A division bench of Justice Tanaji V Nalawade and Justice Mukund G Sewlikar on February 2 passed the order, after hearing a clutch of petitions filed by Milind Daulatrao Patil and other depositors of the spinning mill.
The petitioners sought for a case to registered under the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (MPID) (In Financial Establishments) Act. They alleged that the cooperative spinning mill had purchased massive property and Patel had given close to 105 acres on lease for 99 years with an annual fixed rent of Rs 30 lakh to a private company, Deesan Infrastructure Private Limited.
They further alleged that this firm was controlled by his son, and that the depositors and members of the spinning mill, which is a cooperative society, are being cheated.
In reply, an affidavit filed by Hemant Patil, investigating officer (IO) present for the hearing, referred to findings of an inquiry conducted by the authority created under Section 83 (1) of the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, which stated that no loss was caused to the society.
The bench stated, “The approach of the IO to accept the report of the cooperative department is wrong as it is without considering the position of the law and powers of police.”
The HC remarked, “Persons controlling cooperative institutions have good contact with politicians and everybody knows how the cooperative department works. The police department cannot shirk its responsibility of taking cognizance of the offence, and apparently that has happened in the present matter. The single circumstance that the property of the institution is diverted to the son of the man who controls the spinning mill was sufficient to draw some inferences and read between the lines.”