1. The petitioner is the Managing Committee of a Primary Agricultural Co-operative Bank functioning under the territorial and administrative jurisdiction of respondents 1 and 2. In the Writ Petition, the petitioner is aggrieved by Ext.P4 communication issued to it by the 1st respondent in terms of Rule 66(2) of the Kerala Cooperative Societies Rules. It is the contention of the petitioner that the decision of the 1st respondent with regard to the necessity for authorising an enquiry in terms of Section 65 against the petitioner is flawed, and that the procedural safeguards that had to be adhered to before taking a decision in terms of Section 65 have not been followed by the 1st respondent. It is therefore prayed that this Court be pleased to eventually quash Ext.P4 proceedings, and in the meanwhile, stay further action pursuant to Ext.P4, pending disposal of the writ petition.
2. I have heard Sri.George Poonthottam, the learned senior counsel appearing for the petitioner and also the learned Government Pleader appearing for the respondents.
3. On a consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case as also the submissions made across the Bar, I find from a perusal of the statutory scheme that informs Section 65 of the Kerala Co-operative Societies Act that, at the stage where the petitioner has approached this Court with the present Writ Petition, the petitioner cannot be said to be a person aggrieved by any action taken by the 1st respondent Joint Registrar. Under Section 65 of the Kerala Co-operative Societies Act, the Registrar is given the power to hold an enquiry, either by himself or through a person authorised to an order in writing, into the Constitution, working and financial condition of a society, if he is satisfied that it is necessary so to do. It is apparent from a reading of the provision that at this stage, all that is contemplated is the subjective satisfaction of the Registrar, a statutory authority under the Act, as regards the necessity of conducting an enquiry in to the constitution, working and financial condition of the society concerned. The procedure to be followed in connection with the said decision of the Registrar is enumerated in Rule 66 of the Kerala Co-operative Societies Rules. A perusal of the said Rule would indicate that once the Registrar satisfies himself of the necessity of holding an enquiry, the order authorising the enquiry has to comply with certain requirements as enumerated in Rule 66(1) and a copy of the order authorising the enquiry under Section 65 has to be issued to the President or the Secretary of the Society concerned by registered post with acknowledgement due. Thereafter, the enquiry itself is to be conducted by the authorised person and a report submitted by the said person to the Registrar on the points mentioned in the order authorising the enquiry. The provisions also indicate as to what documents must accompany the report and the nature of the findings that must be recorded in the report to be submitted before the Registrar. Thereafter, the Registrar has to pass orders in the matter after giving a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the society and others concerned.
4. When I peruse the statutory provisions, I find that Ext.P4 communication that is impugned in the Writ Petition is one that is traceable to the provisions of Rule 66(2) of the Kerala Co-operative Societies Rules and it is merely an intimation to the petitioner, of the order recording the subjective satisfaction of the Registrar, as regards the necessity to conduct an enquiry in the manner stipulated under section 65 (1) of the Act. The question that arises for consideration is whether the petitioner has the locus standi to impugn the said communication before this Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India, on a mere apprehension that the proceedings that would follow will result in a prejudicial order against the petitioner. In my view, the petitioner cannot be said to be a person aggrieved at this stage of the proceedings, merely on the basis of an apprehension, howsoever strong, that the proceedings initiated under Section 65 will ultimately culminate in an order prejudicial to its interests. I am of the view that when a final order is passed against the petitioner under the provisions of the Kerala Co-operative Societies Act and Rules, the petitioner can move this Court through a Writ Petition on satisfying the conditions regarding maintainability of a Writ Petition at that stage. In the meanwhile, however, I am of the view that the apprehension of the petitioner with regard to a possible adverse order, motivated by political considerations, can be safeguarded by this Court through insistence on adherence to procedural requirements while completing the exercise in terms of Rule 66 of the Kerala Co-operative Societies Rules. Accordingly, while dismissing the Writ Petition in its challenge against Ext.P4 communication at this stage of the proceedings, I make it clear that in response to Ext.P4 communication received by the petitioner, the petitioner will be free to raise his objections regarding the manner in which the subjective satisfaction of the Registrar was arrived at for the purposes of ordering the enquiry under Section 65, as also the aspects highlighted in Ext.P3 report of the 2nd respondent, which was apparently relied upon by the 1st respondent while arriving at the subjective satisfaction regarding the necessity for ordering an enquiry. In my view, the objections raised by the petitioner at this stage to Ext.P4 communication, on the lines indicated above, should be considered by the 1st respondent for the limited purpose of re-examining his decision as to the necessity for holding the enquiry and also, if need be, to issue appropriate directions to the Enquiring Officer as regards the manner in which
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the enquiry is to be conducted, and the report drawn up thereafter. In the order that is eventually passed by the 1st respondent, based on the enquiry report furnished by the Enquiring Officer, the points raised in the objections to be filed by the petitioner to Ext.P4 communication must also be reflected. The 1st respondent shall do so bearing in mind the fact that any order to be passed by him could prejudicially affect the petitioner herein, who could be subjected to adverse consequences under the Kerala Cooperative Societies Act and Rules. With these directions regarding the observing of procedural safeguards, this Writ Petition is dismissed.