The Supreme Court has upheld Vipul Mansingbhai Chaudhary’s removal as the chairman of the Mehsana District Cooperative Milk Producers Union, the largest union with 4.5 lakh milk producers. But it reduced his disqualification period from six years to a maximum period of four years from holding or contesting for any post in any society in Gujarat.
Earlier, he was also removed as the chairman of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) through a no-confidence motion by majority directors of the federation in December 2013, for taking certain decisions against the cooperative’s interests. GCMMF sells milk and milk products under the brand name Amul.
He was accused of rolling back an increase in the price of some commodities. Further, his decision regarding supply of seeds to Maharashtra was illegal, the showcause notice issued by the Registrar of Cooperative Societies on January 12, 2015 had alleged.
A bench of justices J Chelameswar and AM Sapre said there is no legal infirmity either in the logic adopted by the registrar or the action taken by him as Chaudhary had “committed serious type of administrative and financial irregularities as a consequence thereof, the Sangh has suffered financial loss on large scale”. The judges said that the disqualification order was passed after due compliance with the principles of natural justice.
If the Registrar came to the conclusion that Chaudhary should not be permitted to contest any election or hold any office in any society, the same, in our view, can’t be found fault with. However, it held that “the disqualification of six years upon Chaudhary is not tenable and at best Chaudhary could be disqualified for a maximum period of four years.”
After issuing couple of show cause notices, Chaudhary was removed as the chairman of the Mehsana District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd by the Registrar, who alleged financial irregularities amounting to about Rs 1,200 crore in the cooperative union, also known as Dudhsagar Dairy. Chaudhary had challenged his removal and disqualification for six years from participating in any election or to hold any post in the union and also any other cooperative organisation in the state. Even the state government had confirmed his removal order.
The HC, on Chaudhary’s pleas, had upheld his removal but quashed the Registrar’s order to the extend that the period of disqualification was reduced to three years. Both the state government and Chaudhary had appealed against the HC’s March 10, 2015 order in the SC.
Chaudhary counsel Anip Sachthey had argued that the acts and omissions which formed the basis of allegations leading to action against Chaudhary were not his individual acts but the collective acts or omissions of the committee of the union. Therefore, action if at all required must be taken against the entire committee but not only against him, he argued while terming his removal as “illegal and unsustainable.”