The Societies Registration Act, 1860

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The Societies Registration Act, 1860 (Act No. 21 of 1860) dated 21st May, 1860 was enacted with the view to provide for registration of literary, scientific and charitable societies. The Act was provided in the era when the British rule was there in India, however, the provisions of the Act are still under force in India. The same was amended by the different States legislatures, in order to provide effective provisions in their concerned states.

In order to form a society, the provision of section 1 of the Act says that, any persons not below seven in number by subscribing their names to the Memorandum of Association of the society can form a society. The association of such persons should be for the purposes including education, science, charity or other purposes specified under this Act. Such Memorandum of association should mentioned society’s name, its object, names along with description including addresses, occupations of those who are on the position of governors, council, directors, committee, etc. who are responsible for the management of affairs of the society. Similarly, the Memorandum of association of the society is to be accompanied by the certified copy of the Rules and Regulations of the Society. Such certification is required to be made by at least 3 members of the Governing body of thereof. All these documents are to be presented before the registering authority i.e. ‘Registrar’ under this Act. The Registrar is required to certify that the society sought to be registered, is registered under this Act, upon filing of such Memorandum and copies which were required under previous provisions  of this Act.  Originally, the Act requires a registering fees to be paid at the rate of rupees 50 or lesser fees as the State Government concerned specifies, now various rules in respect of registration and fees thereof have been provided by State Governments in relation to the societies registration in concerned State.

The other important provisions of the Act are dealing with the provisions for filing annual reports enlisting managing bodies of the society. It is required that for every year, after 14 days from the date on which the annual general meeting of the society is held ordinarily in the month of January, such list should be tabled before the Registrar concerned. Such list should include the names, addresses and other descriptions of the Governors, councils, etc. of the Society in whom the management of the Society is vested. So far as the properties of the Society is concerned, section 5 says that such properties to first vest in trustees thereof, and if there is no such vesting, then the same should be taken as vested with the Governing body of the society. In the same situation, in case of any civil or criminal proceedings, the properties should be described as that of Governing body of the society.

Further, the Act provides that the society registered under this Act, is entitled with the right to sue or even the same can be sued. And in same situation the society to be named along with its President, Chairman, etc. or otherwise the names of trustees or Principal Secretary as per the rules and regulations of the concerned society. Even when such persons have not been provided under whose name the society can sue or can be sued, then the Governing body is required under this Act to provide for a name of person who should represent the Society. And in case such person dies or otherwise fail to act as such as required by the Governing body or rules, etc. then also the suits or other legal proceedings should not be treated abated. However, in this situation the suits or such other legal proceedings to be continued under the name of successor of such person. It is also specified that, though a judgement could have been made against the persons representing society, but such judgement should not be enforce against his person or property. Such judgements should only be enforced against the Society or its property as the case may be.

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The Society can frame bye-laws either under its rules and regulations or otherwise under its general meetings. Section 9 says that in case of breach of such bye-laws, when the same provides for any penalty, then said penalty can be recovered by the society by availing help from the Court of law having jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of the Court is specified as the Court within local jurisdiction of which the defendant (person against whom such penalty is recoverable by society) having residence or even where the society is situated, the same is to be determine by the Governing body thereof.

Similarly, on the suggestion or proposal of the Governing body, the Society can alter, or amend or otherwise extend any particular purpose or some purposes in group. The proposals of the Governing body should not be given effect unless a copy of such proposal report is given to every members of the society. Such proposals to be effected after the discussion on it under special meeting of the society.

The later part of the Act deals with provisions as to dissolution of the society, where it is given that, to decide that the society to be dissolved there should be consent of the at least 3/5th Members. On such dissolution the property of the society to be settled or disposed of as per rules thereof and in case of no provisions given under rules, then as per decision of the governing body. And every disputes in relation to such disposition of the assets of the Society, the matters to be taken to the Civil Courts having jurisdiction thereof. However, in case of Government having membership in the society or have contributed to the society, then its assent is also required for dissolution of the society. Similarly, the members in the society have no right to receive profit on dissolution of the society, rather there should be transfer of remaining property to any other society.

The Act specifies under section 20 that, the societies are governed and registered under this Act, are the societies of Charitable, Military Orphan funds, established societies at certain presidencies of India, etc.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.