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Society Registration

Importance and Aspects of Society Registration in India

The registration of the Societies in India is governed by the Society Registration Act, 1860. The Act lays out the basic rules and regulations that have to be abided by the Societies that seek registration under it.

A Society is a non-profit organization that comprises a group of people who jointly act to accomplish a charitable cause. The organization basically works together to promote the spirit of art, culture, science, literature, or other altruistic activities. A Society is therefore an association that works towards a common objective. 

With the upcoming of several such Societies, there existed a need to regulate and govern them. The Society Registration Act 1860, took up that job and laid rules by which the Societies should be operated on a daily basis.  The Act plays a vital role in providing a legal framework to Societies and hence many states have adopted the same with or without minor amendments.

The Society Registration Act, 1860 – Purpose and Objectives

The Act is a pre-independence statute and is still in effect as it gives a legal structure to a Society that otherwise would remain as a mundane non-profit philanthropic association. The Act has basically made it possible for charitable organisations to be incorporated into legal entities.

The purpose of formulating a Society is manifold. The primary objective is to promote and further the spirit of science, literature, art, or any other work of charity that does not have a monetary motive. The Act mentions that a Society can be formulated for the following reasons:

  •       To promote charity
  •       Collection of funds for military orphans
  •       To promote science, literature, fine arts, and beneficial knowledge of related subjects
  •       Dissemination of political education
  •       Establishing and maintaining libraries, reading rooms, public museums, or art galleries.

Requisites for Registering a Society

  •   There should be a minimum of 7 members to form a Society for any given cause
  •   The Memorandum of Association (MoA) should be filed along with the application with the Registrar
  •   The MoA should encompass the name of the Society that seeks registration under the Act, the governing bodies along with the details of their names, their addresses, and designations, founding members of the Society, and the objectives of the Society
  •   The MoA should be attached to the Rules and Regulations of the Society and should be signed by the members of the Society
  •   The meeting in which the Society was resolved should be duly documented and a copy of the same should be attached with the application
  •   The stipulated affidavits along with the documents should be attached to a 10 stamp paper with the name and the title of the Society printed out
  •   The proof of residence of the founding members of the Society
  •   Address proof of the registered office of the Society like sale deed, lease deed, or rental agreement and No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the landlord if the office is a rental property
  •  Stipulated fee for the registration of Society.

Key Aspects of the Society Registration Act, 1860

  1. The Societies that get registered under the Act, are obligated to follow a few rules set out by the Act like filing the annual list of members that govern the Society. This includes governors, directors, committee members, or any other person who holds such cadre in the organisation
  2. Once the Society Registration is done, it gains the position of a separate legal entity. The Society can sue or be sued by being represented by the President, Chairman, Secretary or trustees, or any other person who is authorised by the management of the said Society
  3. In case a court order is to be executed against a Society, it cannot be instituted against the members of the Society but only against the Society itself and properties affiliated with it
  4. A member of the Society may be sued if the member has any arrears that are due to be paid under the rules of the Society, possesses any property illegally, or damages any property that belongs to the Society. On the other hand, if the member was proved to be innocent, costs can be recovered from the Society through a court order
  5. The purpose of establishment of the Society can be altered, abridged, or extended as per the Act. However, a meeting has to be organised at least 10 prior to this. The meeting takes place in 2 phases wherein in the first phase, 3/5th of the members should grant their assent to such changes, and in the second phase which takes place after a period of 1 month at least 3/5th of the members should grant acceptance to the new modifications
  6. The dissolution of the Society can be brought about by the assent of at least 3/5th of its members or by their proxies in the general meeting. Thereafter the settling of claims and liabilities is carried out as laid out in the Act
  7. If there are residual funds or a leftover property after the settling of claims and liabilities, it is donated to another Society that is elected by the votes of at least 3/5th of the members. This however does not apply to joint-stock companies
  8. The Act defines the member of the Society as a person who has paid the required subscription fee and signed the roll or has not resigned from the post as per the rules laid out in the Act. The Act also states that a disqualified member is one who has not settled the arrears on subscription for a period of more than 3 months. Such a member is not entitled to vote or is not considered a member
  9. The Act works with a retrospective effect. Those Societies that were formed prior to the establishment of this act and that operate with a charitable motive can enroll under the Act at any point in time. It is however mandatory that at least 3/5 of the members of the Society, either physically present or by their proxies have given their consent to the same in the general meeting
  10. The documents filed by the Society with the Registrar are open to the public to be inspected by paying a fee of 1 for each inspection
  11. The Act is applicable to Societies that are created for charitable purposes and for the promotion of science, literature, and fine arts.

The registration of Societies is not mandatory, yet the registration gives those organisations a legal structure and separate identity. The registrations could encourage the Societies further to act on their goals promptly. The Act, therefore, was formulated chiefly for the upliftment of society at large and for the welfare of the state and has achieved the same.

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