The Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act 1960

Chapter: XIA - ELECTIONS OF COMMITTEES AND OFFICERS OF CERTAIN SOCIETIES

Section 144A to 144Y

Section 144A - Application of this Chapter and definitions

(1) 1 [ 2 [This Chapter] shall apply] only to elections to committees of societies belonging to the categories specified in section 73-G.

(2) In this Chapter, unless the context otherwise requires.--
(a) "Collector" means the Collector having jurisdiction over the local areas in which the registered office of the society concerned is situated; 3 [and includes the Additional Collector, and also any officer not below the rank of Deputy Collector, appointed by the State Government to exercise the powers and to perform the duties of the Collector under this Chapter];
(b) "election" means an election of a member or members of the committee 4 [or of officer or officers] of a specified society;
(c) "specified society" means a society belonging to any of the categories specified in section 73-G.

Footnote:
1. This portion was substituted for the word "This chapter shall apply" by Mah. 3 of 1974, s. 33(a).
2. These words were sub stituted for the words, figures and letter "except section 144-Y, this Chapter" by Mah. 10 of 1988, s. 29(a).

Section 144B - When elections to be held

Every election shall be held as far as possible some time prior to the date on which the term of office of the retiring member or members is due to expire. If a vacancy occurs due to any other reason, it shall be filled as early as practicable.

Section 144C - Conduct of elections

(1) Save as otherwise provided, every election shall be held on such date or dates as the Collector may fix, and shall be conducted under his control by such Returning Officer and other officers, as may be appointed by the Collector in this behalf.

(2) In all cases where a society has to send a nominee as a member of the committee of any specified society, the election of such nominee shall be conducted under the control of the Collector of the District in which the registered office of the society sending the nominee is situated.

(3) In all cases, where the by-laws of a specified society authorise the Government nominee or the nominee of a Financing Agency to be a member of the committee of the society, no election need be held for such purpose.

(4) The voting at every election shall be by secret ballot.

Section 144D - Cost of conducting elections

(1) The expenses of the holding of any election, including the payment of travelling allowances, daily allowances and other remuneration, if any, to the persons appointed to exercise the powers and perform the duties in respect of the elections, shall be borne by the specified society concerned.

(2) For this purpose, the Collector may call upon a specified society to deposit with him such amount as he considers necessary for the conduct of the election. Within eight days from the receipt of such direction from the Collector, the society shall deposit the specified amount with the Collector.

(3) The Collector shall maintain an account of the expenses incurred in connection with the election and within six months from the declaration of results of the election, render the same to the society concerned, and shall refund to the society the balance, if any, remaining unspent. If the expenditure exceeds the amount of deposit, the Collector shall call upon the society to pay the excess amount as specified by him within eight days from the receipt of the direction from him, and the society shall comply with such direction.

(4) On failure of a specified society to pay as aforesaid the deposit amount or to pay the excess amount, the Collector may recover the sums due, together with interest thereon at the rate of 12 per cent, per annum, from the society as arrears of land revenue.

Section 144E - Disqualifications for membership

(1) A person shall be disqualified for being elected as, and for being a member of the committee of any specified society,--
1 [(a) if he is a salaried employee of any society (other than a society of employees themselves) or holds any office of profit under any society, except when he holds or is appointed to the office of a Managing Director or any other office declared by the State Government by general or special order not to disqualify its holder or is entitled to be or is elected, appointed or co-opted to any reserved seat on the committee of a society under section 73BB;]

(b) if he has been convicted of an offence punishable under section 153A or section 171E or 171F or sub-section 144Q or clause (a) of sub-section (2) or sub-section (3) of section 505 of the Indian Penal Code, or unless section 144Q or clause (a) of sub-section (2) of section 144R of this Act, unless a period of six years has elapsed of five years since the date of his conviction;

(c) if he has found convicted by a Court in India for any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release;

(d) if he is found guilty of a corrupt practice by the Commissioner of the Division, unless a period of six years has elapsed since the date on which the decision of the Commissioner takes effect;

2 I(d- 1) If he has more than two children:
Provided that, a person having more than two children on the date of commencement of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies (Third Amendment) Act, 2001 (hereinafter in this clause referred to as "the date of such commencement"), shall not be disqualified under this clause so long as the number of children he has on the date of such commencement does not increase:

Provided further that, a child or more than one child born in a single delivery within the period of one year from the date of such commencement shall not be taken into consideration for the purpose of disqualification mentioned in this clause.

Explanation.-- For the purposes of this clause.--
(i) where a couple has only one child on or after the date of such commencement, any number of children born out of a single subsequent delivery shall be deemed to be one entity;
(ii) "child" does not include an adopted child or children;

(e) if he so disqualified by or under any other provision of this Act.

(2) For the purpose of clause (a) of sub-section (1), a person shall not be deemed to hold an office of profit under a society, if he does not receive any remuneration other than compensatory allowance, or honorarium payable under sub-section (2) of section 65 not exceeding rupees six thousand per year.

Explanation.-- In this sub-section, "compensatory allowance" means the travelling allowance, the daily allowance or such other allowance which is paid to the holder of the office for the purpose of meeting the personal expenditure in performing the functions as holder of that office.

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (b) or (c) of sub-section (1) a disqualification under either clause shall not, in the case of a person who on the date of the conviction is a member of any specified society, take effect until three months have elapsed from that date or, if within that period an appeal or application for revision is brought in respect of the conviction or the sentence until, that appeal or application is disposed of by the Court.

Footnote:
1. Clause (a) was deemed always to have been sub stituted by Mah. 3 of 1974, s. 34 (1), for saving see s. 34 ( 2).
2. Clause (d-1) was inserted by Mah. 34 of 2001, (w.e.f. 7-9-2001) s. 10.

Section 144F - Account of election expenses, maximum thereof and lodging of account

(1) Every candidate at an election shall keep a separate and correct account of all expenditure in connection with the election incurred or authorised by him.

(2) The account shall contain such particulars as may be prescribed.

(3) The total of the said expenditure shall not exceed such amount as may be specified by the State Government, by general or special order, published in the official Gazette.

(4) Every contesting candidate at an election shall, within thirty days from the date of election of the returned candidate or, if there are more than one returned candidate at the election and the dates of their election are different, the later of those two dates, lodge with the Collector an account of hi s election expenses which shall be true copy of the account kept by him under sub-section (1).

1 (5) Every returning officer at an election shall keep a separate and accurate account of all expenditure in connection with the election, incurred or authorised by him.

1 (6) The Accounts shall contain all the particulars related to the expenses for conduct of the election.

1 (7) The total of the election expenditure shall not exceed such amount as may be specified by the State Government, by general or special order, published in the Official Gazette.

8 (8) Every returning officer at an election shall, within forty-live days from the date of election of the returned candidate shall lodge with the Collector, Registrar or concerned society, as the case may be, the account of the election expenditure which shall be a true copy of the account kept by him under sub-section (5). The Collector or as the case may be, the Registrar shall convey such election expenditure to the concerned society within ten days from the date on which he receives the account of the election expenditure from the returning officer.

1 (9) If the returning officer fails to perform the duties as provided in sub-section (8), he shall not be entitled to claim the remuneration for the conduct of the election and he shall also be liable to pay back all the amount taken by him from the society as advance, for conducting the election, within a period of forty-five days from the date of declaration of the result:
Provided that before passing of such order against the returning officer denying him the remuneration for the conduct of the election and directing him to repaying the advance taken for conducting the elections, the concerned authority shall give him, a reasonable opportunity of being heard.

Footnote:
1. Sub-section (5) to (9) were added by Mah. 34 of 2001, (w.e.f. 7-9-2001) s. 11

Section 144G - Disqualification for failure to lodge account of election expenses

If the Collector is satisfied that a person,--
(a) has failed to lodge an account of election expenses within the time and in the manner required by the last preceding section, and
(b) has no good reason or justification for the failure,
the Collector shall, by order published, in the Official Gazette, declare him to be disqualified for being elected as, and for being, a member of the committee of any specified society, and any such person shall be disqualified for a period of three years from the date of the order.

Section 144H - Removal or reduction of period of disqualification

The State Government may, for reasons to be recorded, remove any disqualification under this Chapter or reduce the period of any such disqualification.

Section 144-I - Corrupt practices

The following shall be deemed to be corrupt practices for the purposes of this Chapter:--
(1) "Bribery", that is to say,--
(A) any gift offer or promise by a candidate or his agent of by any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent of any gratification, to any person whomsoever, with the object, directly or indirectly of including--
(a) a person to stand or not to stand as, or to withdraw or not to withdraw from being a candidate at an election; or

(b) an elector to vote or refrain from voting at an election, or as a reward to--
(i) a person for having so stood or not stood, or for having withdrawn or not having withdrawn his candidature; or
(ii) an elector for having voted or refrained from voting;

(B) the receipt of, or agreement to receive, any gratification, whether as a motive or reward--
(a) by a person for standing or not standing as, or for withdrawing or not withdrawing from being, a candidate; or
(b) by any person whomsoever for himself or any other person for voting or refraining from voting, or inducing or attempting to induce any elector to vote or refrain from voting, or any candidate to withdraw or not to withdraw his candidature.

Explanation.--For the purposes of this clause, the term "gratification" is not restricted to pecuniary gratifications or gratifications estimable in money and it includes all forms of entertainment and all forms of employment for reward, but it does not include the payment of any expenses bona fide incurred at, or for the purpose of, any election and duly entered in the account of election expenses referred to in section 144-F.

(2) Undue influence, that is to say, any direct or indirect interference or attempt to interfere on the part of the candidate or his agent, with the free exercise of any electoral right:
Provided that--
(a) Without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of this clause, any such person as is referred to therein who--
(i) threatens any candidate or any elector, or an elector to believe that he, or any person in whom he is interested with injury of any kind including social obstracism and excommunication or expulsion from any case or community, or
(ii) induces or attempts to induce a candidate or an elector to believe that he, or any person in whom he is interested, will become or will be rendered an object of divine displeasure or spiritual censure,

shall be deemed to interfere with the free exercise of the electoral right of such candidate or elector within the meaning of this clause;

(b) a declaration of public policy, or a promise of public action, or the mere exercise of a legal right without intent to interfere with an electoral right, shall not be deemed to be interference within the meaning of this clause.

(3) The hiring or procuring, whether on payment or otherwise, of any vehicle or vessel by a candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent, or the use of such vehicle or vessel for the free conveyance of any elector (other than the candidate himself, the members of his family or his agent) to or from any polling station:

Provided that, the hiring of a vehicle or vessel by an elector or by several electors at their electors at their joint costs for the purpose of conveying him or them to and from any polling station shall not be deemed to be a corrupt practice under this clause:

Provided further that, the use of any public transport vehicle or vessel or railway carriage by any elector at his own cost for the purpose of going to or coming from any polling station shall not be deemed to be a corrupt practice.

Explanation.--In the clause and in the next succeeding clause, the expression "vehicle" means any vehicle used or capable of being used for the purpose of road transport, whether propelled by mechanical power or otherwise and whether used for drawing after vehicles or otherwise.

(4) The use of vehicles belonging to a specified society for the purposes of any election.

(5) The incurring or authorizing of expenditure in contravention of section 144-F.

(6) Making special advances of loans or otherwise favouring any elector or group of electors between the date of declaration of programme for an election and date of declaration of the result thereof.

Section 144J - Maintenance of secrecy of voting

(1) Every officer, clerk, agent or other person who performs any duty in connection with the recording or counting of Votes at an election shall maintain, and aid in maintaining the secrecy of the voting and shall not (except for some purpose authorised by or under any law) communicate to any person any information calculated to violate such secrecy.

(2) Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.

Section 144K - Officers etc., at elections not to act for candidates or to influence voting

(1) No person who is a Returning Officer or an Assistant Returning Officer or a Presiding or Polling Officer at an election, or an officer or clerk appointed by the Returning Officer or the Presiding Officer to perform any duty in connection with an election shall in the conduct or the management of the election do any act (other than the giving of vote) for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of a candidate.

(2) No such person as aforesaid, and no member of a Police Force, shall endeavour--
(a) to persuade any person to give his vote at an election, or
(b) to dissuade any person from giving his vote at an election, or
(c) to influence the voting of any person at an election in any manner.

(3) Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) shall, on conviction be punished with imprisonment which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.

(4) An offence punishable under sub-section (3) shall be cognizable.

Section 144L - Prohibition of canvassing in or near polling station

(1) No person shall, on the date or dates on which a poll is taken at any polling station, commit any of the following acts within the polling station or in any public or private place within a distance of one hundred metres of the polling station, namely:--
(a) canvassing for votes; or
(b) soliciting the vote of any elector; or
(c) persuading any elector not to vote for any particular candidate; or
(d) persuading any elector not to vote at the election; or
(e) exhibiting any notice or sign (other than an official notice) relating to the election.

(2) Any person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) shall, on conviction be punished with fine which may extend to two hundred and fifty rupees.

(3) An offence punishable under sub-section (2) shall be cognizable.

Section 144M - Penalty for disorderly conduct in or near polling stations

(1) No person shall, on the date or dates on which a poll is taken at any poling station--
(a) use or operate within or at the entrance of the polling station, or in any public or private place in the neighbourhood thereof, any apparatus for amplifying or reproducing the human voice, such as a megaphone or a loud-speaker, or
(b) shout, or otherwise act in a disorderly manner, within or at entrance or the polling station or in any public or private place in the neighbourhood thereof, so as to cause annoyance to any person visiting the polling station for the poll, or so as to interfere with the work of the officers and other persons on duty at the polling station.

(2) Any person who contravenes wilfully aids or abets the contravention of, the provisions of sub-section (1) shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.

(3) If the Presiding Officer of a polling station has reason to believe that any person is committing or has committed an offence punishable under this section, he may direct any police officer to arrest such person, and thereupon the police officer shall arrest him.

(4) Any police officer may take such steps, and use such force, as may be reasonably necessary for preventing any contravention of the provisions of sub-section (1) and may seize any apparatus used for such contravention.

Section 144N - Penalty for misconduct at the polling station

(1) Any person who during the hours fixed for the poll at any polling station misconducts himself or fails to obey the lawful directions of the Presiding Officer may be removed from the polling station by the Presiding Officer or by any Police Officer on duty or by any person authorised in this behalf by such Presiding Officer.

(2) The powers conferred by sub-section (1) shall not be exercised so as to prevent any elector who is otherwise entitled to vote at a polling station from having an opportunity of voting at that station.

(3) If any person who has been so removed from a polling station re-enters the polling station without the permission of the Presiding Officer, he shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.

(4) An offence punishable under sub-section (3) shall be cognizable.

Section 144-O - Penalty for illegal hiring or procuring of conveyances at elections

If any person is guilty of any such corrupt practice as is specified in clause (3) or (4) of section 144-I at or in connection with an election, he shall, on conviction, be punished with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees.

Section 144P - Breaches of official duty in connection with election

(1) If any person to whom this section applies is without reasonable cause guilty of any act or omission in breach of his official duty; he shall, on conviction, be punished with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.

(2) An offence punishable under sub-section (1) shall be congnizable.

(3) No suit or other legal proceedings shall lie against any such person for damages in respect of any such act or omission as aforesaid.

(4) The persons to whom this section applies are the Returning Officers, Assistant Returning Officers, Presiding Officers, Polling Officers and any other persons appointed to perform any duty in connection with the receipt of nomination or withdrawal of candidatures, or the recording or counting of votes at an election; and the expression "official duty" shall for the purposes of this section be construed accordingly, but shall not include duties imposed otherwise than by or under this Act.

Section 144Q - Removal of ballot papers from polling station to be an offence

(1) Any person who at any election fraudulently takes, or attempts to take, a ballot paper out of a polling station, or wilfully aids or abets the doing of any such act, shall on conviction be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.

(2) If the Presiding Officer of a polling station has reason to believe that any person is committing or has committed an offence punishable under sub-section (1), a police officer to arrest such persons and may search such person or cause him to be searched by a police officer:
Provided that, when it is necessary to cause a woman to be searched, search shall be made by another woman with strict regard to decency.

(3) Any ballot paper found upon the person arrested on search shall be made over for safe custody to a police officer by the Presiding Officer, or when the search is made by a police officer, shall be kept by such officer in safe custody.

(4) An offence punishable under sub-section (1) shall be cognizable.

Section 144R - Other offences and penalties therefor

(1) A person shall be guilty of an electoral offence, if at any election he--
(a) fraudulently defaces or fraudulently destroys any nomination paper; or
(b) fraudulently defaces, destroys or removes any list, notice or other document affixed by or under the authority of a Returning Officer; or
(c) fraudulently defaces or fraudulently destroys any ballot paper or the official mark on any ballot paper or any declaration of identity or official envelope used in connection with voting by postal ballot; or
(d) without due authority supplies any ballot to any person or receives any ballot paper from any person or is in possession of any ballot paper; or
(e) fraudulently puts into any ballot box anything other than the ballot paper which he is authorised by law to put in; or
(f) without due authority destroys, takes, opens or otherwise interferes with any ballot box or ballot papers then in use for the purpose of the election; or
(g) fraudulently or without due authority, as the case may be, attempts to do any of the foregoing acts or wilfully aids or abets the doing of any such acts.

(2) Any person guilty of an electoral offence under this section shall--
(a) if he is a Returning Officer or an Assistant Returning Officer or a Presiding Officer at a polling station or any other officer or clerk employed on official duty in connection with the election, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine or with both;
(b) if he is any other person, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.

(3) For the purpose of this section, a person shall be deemed to be on official duty if his duty is to take part in the conduct of an election or part of an election including the counting of votes or to be responsible after an election for the used ballot papers and other documents connection with such election, but the expression "official duty" shall not include any duty imposed otherwise that by or under this Act.

(4) An offence punishable under sub-section(2) shall be cognizable.

Section 144S - Application of section 148 to offences under this Chapter subject to certain modifications

The provisions of section 148 shall apply to the offences under this Chapter, sub ject to the 1 [modification that] no prosecution for an offence punishable under this Chapter shall be lodged, except with the previous sanction of the Collector.

Footnote:
1. These words were sub stituted for the portion beginning with the words "modifications that" and ending with; the figures and words " 1898 and that" by Mah. 20 of 1986, s. 58.

Section 144T. Disputes relating to elections to be submitted to the Commissioner 1 [or other specified officer]

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in section 91 or any other provisions of this Act, any dispute relating to an election shall be referred to the Commissioner of the Division in which such election is held 2 [or to an officer not below the rank of Additional Commissioner of a Division authorised by the State Government in this behalf (hereinafter in this section either of them as the context may require is referred to as "the specified officer")].

(2) Such reference may be made by an aggrieved party by presenting an election petition to 3 [the specified officer], within a period of two months from the date of declaration of the result of the election:
Provided that, 3 [the specified officer] that he had sufficient cause for not preferring the petition within the said period.

(3) In exercising the functions conferred on him by or under this Chapter, 4 [the specified officer] shall have the same powers as were vested in a Court in respect of,--
(a) proof of facts by affidavit;
(b) summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath;
(c) compelling discovery or the production of documents; and
(d) issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses.

In the case of any such affidavit, an officer appointed by 3 [the specified officer] in this behalf may administer the oath to the deponent.

(4) Subject to any rules made by the State Government in this behalf, any such petition shall be heard and disposed of by 2 [the specified officer] as expeditiously as possible. An order made by 3 [the specified officer] on such petition shall be final and conclusive and shall not be called in question in any Court.

Footnote:
1. These words were added, by Mah. 36 of 1975, s. 11(c).
2. This portion was inserted by Mah. 36 of 1975, s. 11(a).
3. These words were sub stituted for the words "the Commissioner", by Mah. 36 of 1975, s. 11(b).
4. These words were sub stituted for the portion beginning with the words "modifications that" and ending with; the figures and words " 1898 and that" by Mah. 20 of 1986, s. 58.

Section 144U - Deposit towards costs for hearing and power to award costs for hearing and power to award costs

A petitioner presenting an election petition under the last preceding section shall pay a deposit not exceeding Rs. 500 as the Commissioner may direct towards the costs for hearing the petition. Unless the petitioner deposits the same as aforesaid, the petition shall be summarily dismissed. Subject to such conditions as may be prescribed, at the time of deciding the petition, the Commissioner shall assess the costs of the hearing of the petition and shall require the petitioner or the respondents, or both as the case may be, to defray the whole or in such proportion as he thinks fit, the costs of the petition including the deposit so made. The Commissioner shall credit to Government such sum as he assesses as the cost to Government of hearing the petition (but not exceeding Rs. 500 in any case).

Section 144V - Contents of petition

(1) An election petition shall--
(a) contain a concise statement of the material facts on which the petitioner relies;
(b) set forth full particulars of any corrupt practice that the petitioner alleges, including as full a statement as possible of the names of the parties alleged to have committed such corrupt practice and the date and place of the commission of each such practice; and
(c) be signed by the petitioner and verified in the manner laid down in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, for the verification of pleadings:

Provided that, where the petitioner alleges any corrupt practice, the petition shall also be accompanied by an affidavit in support of the allegation of such corrupt practice and the particulars thereof.

(2) Any schedule or annexure to the petition shall also be signed by the petitioner and verified in the same manner as the petition.

Section 144W - Relief that may be claimed by the petitioner

A petitioner may, in addition to claiming a declaration that the election of all or any of the returned candidates is void, claim a further declaration that the himself or any other candidate has been duly elected.

Section 144X - Power to make rules for purposes of this chapter

Without prejudice to any other power to make rules contained else-where in this Act. the State Government may make rules consistent with this Act generally to provide for and to regulate all or any of the other matters relating to the various stages of the elections 1 [including preparation of list of voters].

Footnote:
1. These brackets and words were deemed always to have been added by Mah. 3 of 1974, s. 35.

1 Section 144Y - Special provision for election of officers of specified societies

(1) This section shall apply only to election of officers by members of committees of societies belonging to the categories specified in section 73-G.

(2) 2 [After the election of the members of he committee and, where necessary, co-option or appointment, as the case may be, of members to the reserved seats under section 73-B] or whenever such election is due, the election of the officer or officers of any such society shall be held as provided in its bye-laws but any meeting of the committee for this purpose shall be presided over by the Collector or an officer nominated by him in this behalf.]

Footnote:
1. Section 144-Y was inserted, by Mah. 3 of 1974, s. 36.
2. These words, figures and letter were substituted for the words, "after the election of the members of the committee" by Mah. 18 of 1984, s. 4.

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