Writ of Mandamus can be issued to regulate elections/functions of a society governed by Societies Registration Act, 1860 overlooking the provisions of the Act

Allahabad High Court: In a case before the Court where certain questions relating to the issue of the writ of mandamus commanding the Authorised Controller/District Magistrate to hold election of office bearers of a society registered under the Act of 1860 had been referred for the opinion of the larger Bench, the majority opinion  of the Court authored by Dilip B. Bhosale, C.J. (with whom Yashwant Varma, J. agreed) held that issuing a writ of mandamus to societies regulated by the Societies Registration Act, 1860 is justified.

In the present case, a college run by a society registered under the Act was affiliated to a University. The State Government, in exercise of its powers under Section 57 of the Uttar Pradesh Universities Act, 1973 appointed the District Magistrate as the Authorized Controller to take over the management of the College and its properties overlooking the provisions of Section 25(2) of the Societies Registration Act, 1860. This direction of the State Government and of the learned Single and Division Benches was appealled against in this case.

The Court analysed the facts of the case and Ashwani Kumar Mishra, J expressing his dissenting opinion said that the body charged with the responsibility to manage such educational institution is the society, registered under the Act of 1860, and the exclusive provision to regulate it, so far as its valid constitution is concerned, vests in the authority constituted under the Act of 1860.

Contrarily, the majority relying on the Supreme Court Constitution Bench’s decision in State of W.B. v. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, (2010) 3 SCC 571 held that it would amount to curtailment of the extraordinary powers of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution if the writ is prevented from being issued. The High Courts are authorised under Article 226 of the Constitution, to issue directions, orders or writs to any person or authority, including any Government to enforce fundamental rights and, “for any other purpose”. [Committee of Management, Dadar Ashram Trust Society v. Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth, Varanasi, 2016 SCC OnLine All 1072, decided on 16.12.2016]

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