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Is co-operative organization a co-operative employee a public authority and public servant respectively ?

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The cooperative societies are not set up or established under any act of Parliament or State Legislatures. Cooperative Societies and Multi-State Cooperative Societies are registered and governed by the Cooperative Societies Act of Different states and Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act respectively. Cooperative legislation’s and rules are brought into force for the sole reason of the smooth functioning of cooperative societies.

Cooperative Societies are an Association of Individual’s who gather together with a common purpose, objective and aim to work in a beneficial manner for all its members. Cooperative Societies are separate entities, they are different from their members, with a common seal and perpetual succession. From time to time office bearers and members may change but the cooperative society remains in existence until it is wound up according to the law.

According to court case in year 1981, an appellant, who is a member of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and whose services placed at the disposal of the Cooperative Store Ltd., a Society registered under the Bombay Cooperative Society Act, 1925, was a public servant in the meaning of clause Twelfth of Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973; for provision of a service or pay served under the purpose of Section 1979.

He was neither an officer in the service or pay of the government nor of a local authority, a corporation established by or under an Act or a Government Company. The honourable court decided that merely incorporating a society under the Central or State Act does not make a body a corporation as in the meaning of clause Twelfth of Section 21.

In the above context ‘corporation’ means a corporation created by the legislature and not a body or society brought into existence by an act of a group of individuals.

Management and control are statutorily conferred on the managing committee or the board of director of the cooperative society by the respective cooperative societies Act and not on the authorities under the Cooperative Societies Act.

Hence I would like to conclude this blog by stating that societies are not public authorities and hence, they are not legally obliged to furnish any information sought by a citizen under the RTI Act.

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