General Concept relating to Registration of Societies

Registration of Societies in India is governed by the Societies Registration Act, 1860. This Act provides a legal basis for the formation of societies for various charitable, scientific, and literary purposes. Societies under this Act are akin to nonprofit organizations or associations that operate for the promotion of arts, sciences, education, sports, charity, social welfare, environmental conservation, or any other similar objective.

Purpose of Registration:

Registration provides a society with legal recognition, enabling it to:

  • Own property.
  • Enter into contracts.
  • Sue and be sued in its name.
  • Avail tax exemptions, subject to certain conditions and the nature of its activities.

Key Steps for Registration:

  1. Formation of the Society:

A minimum of seven individuals (or more, depending on the state legislation) who are competent to contract can form a society. Members can be Indian citizens or foreigners and companies or other societies.

  1. Memorandum of Association:

The founding members must prepare a Memorandum of Association, which includes:

  • The name of the society.
  • The society’s objectives.
  • The names, addresses, and occupations of the governors, council, directors, committee, or other governing body to whom management of the society is entrusted.
  • The address of the registered office of the society.
  1. Rules and Regulations:

Alongside the Memorandum of Association, the society must prepare its rules and regulations, which govern its functioning, membership criteria, meeting procedures, financial management, and other operational aspects. These rules must be signed by the founding members.

  1. Registration:

The Memorandum of Association and the Rules and Regulations, along with the required registration fee, should be submitted to the Registrar of Societies of the state where the society intends to operate. The documents may need to be accompanied by affidavits, consent letters, and authority letters, as per the specific requirements of the state.

  1. Issuance of Certificate of Registration:

Upon satisfying all requirements, the Registrar of Societies issues a Certificate of Registration, legally recognizing the society.

Post-registration Requirements:

  • Regular Meetings and Minutes:

Societies are required to hold annual general meetings, maintain minutes of meetings, and keep records.

  • Financial audits:

Most societies must annually audit their accounts and submit the audited reports to the Registrar.

  • Amendments:

Any changes to the Memorandum of Association or Rules and Regulations must be filed with and approved by the Registrar.

Benefits of Registration:

  • Legal Status:

Registered societies can lease, buy, or sell property, enter contracts, and institute legal proceedings in their name.

  • Financial Benefits:

They may receive tax benefits, accept donations, and open bank accounts in the society’s name.

Compliance and Dissolution:

Societies must comply with the Act and their own rules. They can be dissolved voluntarily by members or by a court order. Upon dissolution, the assets are typically transferred to another society with similar objectives or as specified in the rules or by the court.

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