Registration of Societies for Charitable Purposes in India

Societies in India are governed by the provisions of the Societies Registration Act 1860 which is a central Act, with each state adopting it with certain modifications.

Societies in India are governed by the provisions of the Societies Registration Act 1860 which is a central Act, with each state adopting it with certain modifications. As per section 20 of the Societies Registration Act, 1860, the following societies may be registered under this Act:-

  • Charitable societies;
  • The military orphan funds or societies established at the several presidencies of India;
  • Societies established for the promotion of science, literature, or the fine arts, for instruction, the diffusion of useful knowledge, the diffusion of Political education, the foundation or maintenance of libraries or reading-rooms for general use among the members or open to the public, or public museum and galleries of paintings and other works of arts, collection of natural history, mechanical and philosophical inventions, instruments or designs.

In addition to the above purposes, based on the Societies Registration Act that is amended and implemented by the respective State Government, the purposes for which a Society can be registered in India may vary.

MEANING OF CHARITABLE PURPOSE:

The word “charitable” has not been defined under the Societies Registration Act. However, the definition can be inferred from the Income Tax Act and also from the Bombay Public Trusts Act.

As per Section 2(15) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, “charitable purpose” includes: relief of the poor; education; yoga; medical relief; preservation of environment (including watersheds, forests and wildlife) and preservation of monuments or places or objects of artistic or historic interest; and the advancement of any other object of general public utility, provided that the advancement of any other object of general public utility shall not be an activity in the nature of trade, commerce or business.

According to section 9(1) of the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950, “charitable purpose” includes: relief of poverty or distress; education; medical relief; provision for facilities for recreation or other leisure time occupation (including assistance for such provision), if the facilities are provided in the interest of social welfare and public benefit; and the advancement of any other object of general public utility, but does not include a purpose which relates exclusively to religious teaching or worship.

As both these definitions are inclusive and exhaustive, the purposes similar to the purposes mentioned in the aforesaid definitions will also constitute charitable purposes.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED TO REGISTER SOCIETY IN INDIA:

  • PAN Card of members
  • MOA
  • Residence Proof of Member
  • Residence address for society
  • Covering Letter
  • List of Members with Address and ID Proof
  • Declaration by Member holding the position

REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURE FOR REGISTRATION OF CHARITABLE SOCIETY:

  • minimum of seven or more persons.
  • Drafting of the Memorandum of a Society or Memorandum of Association of a Society: It is a document which lays down the name, address, objects, details of the members of the governing body/directors, etc., of the society. When selecting a name for society registration, it is vital to understand that according to Society Act, 1860, an identical or similar name of a currently registered society will not be allowed. Moreover, the proposed name shall not suggest for any patronage of state government or government of India or fascinate the provisions of Emblem & Names Act, 1950.
  • Drafting of the Rules and Regulation of the Society.
  • Filing of the duly executed Memorandum and the Rules and Regulation document along with other requisite documents and the prescribed fee to the Registrar of Societies or other concerned authority in the State responsible for Society Registration.
  • On reviewing the application for society registration, the Registrar can then approve the Society registration or request for additional details, if required.

DISSOLUTION

The Societies Registration Act also provides for the dissolution of the societies and for that at least three-fifths of the society's members must assent towards dissolution. After that all necessary steps shall be taken for the disposal and settlement of the property of the society, its claims and liabilities according to the rules of the said society applicable thereto. However, upon dissolution, and after settlement of all debts and liabilities, the funds and property of the society may not be distributed among the members of the society, rather, the remaining funds and property must be given or transferred to some other society, preferably one with similar objects as the dissolved entity.


- As on 1st July 2019

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