A three-judge bench of the high court held two sections, dealing with the aspect of inclusion of members in the co-operative sector of the Gujarat Co-operative Society Act constitutional, while differing from an earlier order which had termed these sections ‘unconstitutional’.
    
"Sections 22(2) and 24 of the Gujarat Co-operative Society Act, 1961, do not violate any of the provisions of the Constitution of India," the court said in its judgment.
    
The bench comprising Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya, Justice VM Sahai and Justice Ravi Tripathi overturned the decision of a two-judge bench which had earlier held these two sections as ‘unconstitutional’.
    
Section 22(2) of the act deals with the right of a person to become member of a co-operative society, while Section 24 says that there is a concept of ‘open membership’ in any co-operative society.
    
Section 24 of the act further says that "no society without sufficient cause shall refuse admission to membership to any person duly qualified".
    
In 1997, a division bench had held, "We are of the opinion that provisions contained in Section 22(2) and Section 24 are violative of Article 19(1) of the Constitution."
    
Article 19(1) gives the right to freedom of speech and expression to every citizen of India.
    
Government pleader PK Jani, who appeared for the state of Gujarat, said, "The judgement would have a far reaching effect of functioning of co-operative societies in the state as the concept of open membership would provide a greater opportunity to many eligible persons to become members."
    
With this judgment, office bearers of co-operative societies would have limited roles in inducting new members, whereas earlier, they had the sole discretionary power to induct new members.

(Agencies)

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