A Society comprises a group of individual members, who stay together, to achieve, deliberate, or act on a specific task or purpose. Societies are usually registered to promote their charitable objectives. The activities of such Societies are regulated by the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
Man is a social animal and needs to be supported by others to carry out a normal life. Man, ever since the evolution took place or perhaps even before that, started to live in social groups. This forms the foundation for families and even the government that regulates the lives of people at large. This social group is collectively referred to as a Society.
Society, therefore, refers to an aggregate group of people living together in a systematic fashion, or an organization formed to achieve a specific goal or activity. The group generally purports to achieve a common goal. The goal could be any legitimate goal that is of religious, cultural, political, scientific, technological, or charitable nature.
It is also a common occurrence that individuals who have a common desire, form groups and come together to achieve it. For instance, in helping out the downtrodden, or those intending to organize blood donation camps, or say, something on a lighter nerve like a group of backpackers or bike riders, often wish to have a common group through which they can share their ideas and accomplish their common goals. With the evolution of time, there came a need to have these social groups or societies registered, and hence a statute was brought in place. The Society Registration Act, of 1860 enabled such groups to acquire a juridical structure and gave them legal recognition.
Significance of the Society Registration Act:
The intention of codifying the Act was to enable a group to deliberate, govern and act in an orderly manner to achieve the purpose for which the Society was put together. The Society Registration Act, of 1860 is a pre-independence Act that came into effect in May 1860. The Act has been embraced by most State governments with the necessary amendments. The state of Karnataka, formulated the Society Registration Act, 1960, with certain proposed amendments to the earlier Act. Likewise, the state of West Bengal came up with the Society Registration Act, of 1961. Any citizen of India has the right to gain information pertaining to any Society through the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Purpose of the Act:
The registration of a specific group or a Society is accomplished for the following purposes:
- Promoting the spirit of arts, science, and literature
- To impart practical knowledge
- To divulge political education
- To extend charitable support to the needy
- To create funds for the military, and collect resources for the orphans
- To constitute a foundation for libraries, art, and cultural galleries, public museums, etc.
Registration of Societies:
One of the basic prerequisites to registering a Society is to have a minimum of 7 or more members in the respective association. This is not only applicable to Indians, but also to foreigners, companies, and other registered societies. For a housing Society registration, a minimum of 10 individuals is required to carry out the cooperative Society registration process.
On the other hand, it is not mandatory to get a Society registered. It can either be registered or unregistered, just like a partnership firm. However, it is generally urged to get it registered, as only registered societies can buy, sell and hold properties, or can exercise their right to sue or be sued. Registration of societies is managed by the respective state governments. Hence the application for registration must be addressed to the authority empowered by the State. Before registering the Society, the members should have a consensus on the name chosen for the Society and thereafter should draft the Memorandum of Rules and Regulations for the Society.
Selecting a Name for the Society:
The Society Registration Act, 1860 lays out that, the name selected for a Society that seeks registration should not be the same or identical to the name of any other existing registered Society. It also has to be borne in mind that the name selected for the Society should not hold patronage to the respective state government or to the government of India. For instance, words such as State, Union, Co-operative, etc cannot be a part of the name of the Society. Further, any such names that are covered under the Emblems and Names Act, 1860 cannot be registered.
Memorandum and Rules and Regulations
One of the primary initiatives to be taken when registering a Society is to draft the Memorandum and the Rules and Regulations of the Society. The founding members of the Society must affix their signatures on both documents. The details of the founding members such as their names, addresses, and designations must be enclosed along with the name and the objectives of the Society. The documents must be signed in the presence of a witness by a Notary Public, Gazetted Officer, Advocate, Chartered Accountant, Oath Commissioner, or Magistrate first-class, and must be stamped using their official stamps and with their respective addresses enclosed. The registration fee for registering a Society is around ₹5000.
Advantages of Registering a Society
It is quite evident that getting a Society registered is complicated as it involves cumbersome procedures. It further requires the approval of several members of the Society. Yet registering it has its own advantages. Registration endows upon a Society, the status of a separate legal entity.
This would mean that Society has the right to sell, buy, rent or lease property by itself. Furthermore, a registered Society can also enter contracts or borrow money from a bank in its own capacity. That being stated, no member of the Society will be held personally liable for the debts incurred by the Society. Beyond all this, a registered Society avails a number of tax benefits as well, which cannot be overlooked.
Documents to be Enclosed
The following documents are to be mandatorily furnished with the Society Registrar along with the application for registration:
- A cover letter, that states the requisition of the registration of the Society, signed by the founding members
- The Memorandum of the Society in duplicate
- The Rules and Regulations of the Society in duplicate
- Proof of address of the Society’s registered office
- No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the landlord of the premises, if the registered office is rented out for the Society
- An affidavit admitted by the President or Secretary of the Society explaining the relationship among the members or its subscribers
- The minutes of the meeting of the Society registration along with the required documents.
Once the application and the required fee along with the mandatory documents are furnished to the Registrar of Societies, the Society is granted registration if there are no discrepancies in the documents thus submitted.
Documents to be Submitted by the Members
- PAN (Permanent Account Number) of the members of the society
- Address proof of all the members such as recent bank statements, utility bills, driving license, Aadhaar card, or a valid Indian passport
- The Memorandum of Association explains the objectives and mission of the Society along with the details of addresses of its members
- The Rules and Regulations of the Society expounds on the day-to-day activities of the Society, the directives pertaining to the induction of new members, information pertaining to the meetings to be held, information about various presiding officers like auditors, arbitration clauses, and remedial measures, the procedure for dissolution of the society, etc
- The cover letter that iterates the purpose and objectives of the Society
- A declaration letter by the president of the Society stating the person’s competency and will to hold the post.
Once the documents are submitted, the registration certificate along with the registration number is awarded after performing the routine due diligence by the Registrar. The status of registration of the Society can also be checked online by logging in to the official website.
Therefore, in order to register a Society, the prerequisites have to be fulfilled regardless of how complicated they are. A slight mishap in the paperwork or failing to furnish one of those several mandatory documents could result in a severe loss of time and resources. One easy way to circumvent this tedious procedure is to outsource the work to the experts in the game.
We at Vakilsearch have our proficient teams to get to the bottom of the task and help one get through the registration seamlessly. We ensure that all the paperwork and documentation are intact so that the registration could be accomplished in a single go!
- Numerous Advantages of Society Registration
- Procedure for Registering a Society in India
- Fundamentals of the Annual General Body Meeting