ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The 97th Amendment

Some Concerns

The 97th amendment to the Constitution inserts a critical point into Article 19(1)(c) by recognising the right of the people to form cooperative societies as a fundamental right. It envisages their insulation from political interference, and infusion of greater managerial skills and autonomy into their functioning. However, there is the possibility of the managerial element overriding the concerns of the members and lack of sufficient room for an effective state intervention when required.

I am grateful to justice (retired) Narendra Chapalgaonkar and Vivek Bhandari for commenting on the earlier draft and to Maitreyee Mukherjee for helping in streamlining the text.

The 97th amendment to the Constitution is supposed to mark a watershed in the realm of the Indian cooperative sector. It received the presidential assent on 12 January 2012 and subsequently came into force on 15 February 2012.

By this amendment Article 19(1)(c) stands changed with one critical insertion. It recognises the right of the people to form cooperative societies as a fundamental right and accordingly the term cooperative society is inserted into Article 19(1)(c). It is assumed that by this the cooperatives will be insulated from political interference and will be able to function in an autonomous manner. By putting forth the right to form cooperatives as a fundamental right, through the addition in Part III, Article 19 of the Constitution, the amendment seeks to bring uniformity in the cooperative laws of various states in India. It also seeks to introduce greater autonomy and managerial skills in the sectors while emphasising a regime of uniformity of law across the board.

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