Federalism and Cooperatives : SC Order – UPSC GS2

Context: Supreme Court struck down certain provisions of the Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011, which had added Part IX(B) to the Constitution of India.
The 97th Constitution Amendment & Part IX(B)
  • The 97th Constitution Amendment came into effect in 2012.
  • It was a major step towards infusing autonomy, democratic functioning, and professional management.
  • Part IXB delineated the contours of what State legislation on cooperative societies ought to contain, such as
    • Provisions on the maximum number of directors in each society,
    • Reservation for seats for SCs, or STs, and women,
    • Duration of the terms of elected members, among others.
Why the Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011 was struck down?
  • The Parliament had passed the 97th Amendment without sending it to the states for ratification by at least half the state legislatures.
  • Since co-operative societies were part of the State List of the Constitution, the 97th Amendment violated the basic structure of the Constitution.
  • The Supreme Court, by a 2:1 majority, upheld the judgment holding the amendment invalid, but only in relation to cooperatives under the States.
  • The elaborate amendment would hold good for multi-State cooperative societies, on which Parliament was competent to enact laws.
Importance of Federal Structure:
  • The judgment has reiterated that the Parliament cannot make laws on state subjects without shifting them to the Concurrent List or the Union List. Except in cases of national interest, under Article 249.
  • The court reasoned that even well-intentioned efforts towards reforms cannot be at the cost of the quasi-federal principles underlying the Constitution. Permitting such an action would undermine the entire federal structure of the country.
Way forward:
  • The functioning of the Cooperative sector is hampered by political interference, lack of regular elections, etc. The cooperative movement certainly needs reform and revitalisation.
  • There is no denying that the scope for democratising the functioning of cooperative societies and enhancing their autonomy remains unchanged.
  • Centre must find another way to do so in keeping with constitutional principles.

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