Co-operative Banks are not ‘State’ or ‘authority’ within the meaning of Article 12 and 226 respectively

Himachal Pradesh High Court– While deciding on a writ petition wherein the petitioner sought to issue the writ of certiorari to quash the orders passed by the respondents and also the writ of mandamus directing the respondent-Bank to promote him for the post of Assistant General Manager, a bench of Tarlok Singh Chauhan J, dismissed the petition stating that it is not maintainable against the H.P. State Co-operative Bank Ltd. (Bank) as it is not a ‘State’ or ‘authority’ within the meaning of Article 226 and even the Registrar of the Bank has no power to adjudicate such kinds of disputes as the same do not touch the constitution, management or business of the Cooperative Societies. The Court in order to decide on the maintainability stated that the orders passed by the respondents i.e. Registrar and the State Government cannot be termed to be statutory orders as the dispute raised by the petitioners pertained to a service matter and the dispute of an employee and employer relationship is not a dispute, under the constitution, management or business of the cooperative societies and therefore, is not amenable to the jurisdiction of the Registrar under section 72 of the Act.

As per the facts, the petitioner is an employee of the Bank and is working as Senior Manager at Sarkaghat and the relief claimed herein is against the Bank. The Petitioner contends, citing Vikram Chauhan vs. The Managing Director, HLJ 2013 (HP) 742 (FB), that a writ would lie against the cooperative bank if the facts and circumstances so warrant despite it not being a State within the meaning of Article 12 and if not, then the matter be remitted to the Registrar, Co-operative Societies. While the respondents contend that the petition is not maintainable as the Bank is not a State.

Dismissing the contentions raised by the petitioners, the Court explained that it is not the case where the respondents were imposed with a public duty and referring to Hindustan Steel Works Construction Ltd. Vs. Tarapore & Co., (1996) 5 SCC 34 further stated that it should be borne in mind that the observations in the judgment cannot be read like a text of a statute or out of context but must be read as a whole. Shakti Chand Thakur v. State of H.P, 2015 SCC OnLine HP 1102, decided on 5.3.2015


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