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Maharashtra Cabinet scraps new election department

11:42 PM Oct 14, 2020 | Sanjay Jog

In yet another setback to former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, on Wednesday, scrapped the previous government’s decision to create a new election department and consider the office of the Chief Electoral Officer as a branch of the general administration department. The state cabinet, chaired by CM Uddhav Thackeray, approved to repeal the decision taken by the Fadnavis government on August 14, 2019, three months before the state assembly election.

This the second major decision after the state government’s move to scrap the Metro 3 car shed in Aarey Colony proposed by the Fadnavis government. The government has announced shifting of Metro 3 car shed to Kanjurmarg.

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The cabinet cited that the Fadnavis government decision was not backed by the Election Commission of India’s guidelines for the creation of a new election department. ECI had directed only the creation of new posts in the Chief Electoral Officer’s office. In view of today’s decision, the Chief Electoral Officer and the staff will again be under the jurisdiction of the general administration department.

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The cabinet also scrapped the sanction of Rs 1.02 crore for the new election department. Further, it has also cancelled the permanent inclusion of 33 officers and staff of the Chief Electoral Officer’s office in the election department.

In another important decision, the cabinet has approved an amendment to the Cooperative Societies Act to give powers to the Board of Directors of a cooperative body instead of the Annual General Meeting for clear key financial and related matters. This was taken in the wake of the present COVID-19 crisis, where the government had already given an extension for holding AGM by cooperative bodies till March 31, 2021.

With today’s decision, the board of directors can now approve the balance sheet, next year’s financial statements and the appointment of auditors. The board of directors, whose tenure is left for another two and half years, has been allowed to fill up the vacant posts.

Till the AGM takes place, the cooperative body will not be allowed to use funds from the profit. However, the cabinet has approved amendments to the section 65, 75 and 81 of the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, 1960, and also to promulgate an ordinance. This will pave way for the cooperative bodies to approve financial statements, appoint auditors and pay dividends before Dussehra and Diwali.

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