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Societies Registration Act 1980

Society, in general terms, it means aggregate of people living together, having common interest to serve certain functions and to achieve their particular aims and goals, these goals could be any legitimate goals. The societies, the non-profit organizations are usually created for the promotion and advancement of the charitable activities such as literature, science, art, culture, music, education, sports and many others. The societies being registered helps in providing

free education, promotion of literature, art, science, expansion of knowledge, for creating and promoting awareness regarding these charitable activities. Indian legal system has given legal recognition to the registration of the societies in the territory of India through an act named Societies Registration Act, 1860 (hereinafter referred as S.R. Act) which is a governing body of registered societies in India. It is a pre- independence Act which is still enforceable in India. Several states of India has accepted this act as it is enacted or with further amendments to the same. Such societies has to operate according to the provisions of the said act.

Procedure For Registration Under Societies Registration Act

According to Section 1 of the S.R. Act, Societies are formed by memorandum of association. At least seven members are required for the Society Registration in India and these members must be associated for any literary, scientific, or charitable purpose, or any other purpose as described in section 20 of this Act.

The members by subscribing their names to a memorandum of association and filing the same with the registrar of joint stock companies, can form themselves into a society under this act. Apart from members from India, companies, foreigners and other registered societies can also register to Society's MOA. The members of the society must be individuals completing the age of 18 years, mentally sound and competent to contract according to the Indian Contract Act, 1872. "Members" is defined under section 15 of the Act

as a member of a society, he shall be a person who has been admitted therein according to the rules and regulations thereof, he shall have paid a subscription, or shall have signed the roll or list of members thereof, and shall not have resigned in accordance with such rules and regulations as mentioned. If the number of members reduced below seven, the court can dissolve the society, it is one of the grounds under Section 13 B of the Act, where on application of the Registrar under section 13A or under section 24 or on an application made by not less than one- tenth of the members

of a society registered under this Act, the Court may make an order for the dissolution of the society. Similar to Partnership Firms in India, Society can also be either registered or unregistered. A society has the liberty to function as an unregistered entity. However, only those societies which are registered holds the properties in their name or have the right to sue the defaulter in State governments administer societies registration Act.

The application for registering the societies must be filed before the specific authority of the concerned state, where the society has the registered office. Registration process usually begins with the name approval process where the established members has to agree with concerned society's name and then they must draft the memorandum, the rules and regulations of the society.

Name of the society: The members of the society must agree to approve a name for the society being registered. According to the S.R. Act, choosing similar or identical name which resembles an existing registered society is not permitted. The society must not attract the provisions of the Emblem and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. The name being proposed should not link with any law for the time it is in force.

Drafting of MOA:
The Memorandum of association must contain certain clauses as mentioned in the section 2 of the S.R. Act.

The clauses are given below:
  1. Name of the society
  2. Objective of the society
  3. Registered Office Clause
  4. The names, addresses, and occupations of the governors, council, directors, committee, or other governing body to whom, by the rules of the society, the management of its affairs is entrusted.

Rules and Regulations: The rules and regulations as drafted by the members of the Society should be certified by not less than three members of the governing body of the society, which shall be filed with the memorandum of association. The members has to prepare other necessary documents along with the memorandum and the rules and regulations. These documentations has to be submitted to the concerned registrar of the particular state along with the stated fee. The MOA and Rules and Regulations should be signed by at least seven members of the concerned society.

Ram Sajiwan v. The II Additional District Judge, Fatehpur
, AIR 1994 NOC 273 (All). The rules and regulations given in the memorandum of association form a contract amongst the members of the society and they are necessarily required to be registered under statute, these rules or regulations do not acquire any statutory character. And even if rules or bye-laws do not provide for the observance of the rules of natural justice before an expulsion, the courts will imply them in the contract which is a body of rules or bye-laws.

Certificate of registration: The state government, through notification in the official gazette, appoints a person to be called as Registrar of societies who exercises such power and performs such duties and functions as conferred by or under the provisions of this act These documentation has to be submitted to the concerned registrar of the particular state along with the fee of fifty rupees or smaller fees as the state government direct, who verifies the documents submitted and may request for any additional information or necessary changes in the documents.

If the application is found to be in compliance with the requirements of the Societies Registration Act, the registrar will issue the certificate of registration to the society. Generally the registration of a society takes around one month and the official website of the Municipal of corporate affairs keeps the track of the registration status. In State Bank of India Staff Association v Mohindra Bhattacharyya, AIR 1991 Cal 378, the court held that the Registrar can refuse to register a society in case all the necessary requirements as contemplated in the Act are not fulfilled.

Renewal: A registered society, whether before or after the commencement of the said act, should be entitled to have its certificate of registration renewed for five years at a time. In the case of a society registered before the commencement of the Act, the Registrar shall refuse to renew the certificate of registration if after giving it, an opportunity of showing cause against such refusal, he is satisfied that any of the grounds mentioned in sub-section (2) of section 3 exist in respect of it.

Fee must be paid to the registrar with every application for renewal of the certificate of registration. Every application for renewal of the certificate has to be accompanied by a list of members of the managing body who are elected after the registration of the society or after the renewal of certificate of registration and also the certificate sought to be renewed unless dispensed with by the Registrar on the ground of its loss or destruction or other sufficient cause.

If a society fails to get its certificate of registration renewed in accordance with the provision of the said act within one year from the expiration of the period for which the certificate was operative then a society become an unregistered society.

Termination Of Membership Of The Society:

  • In case if a society is not so registered, if no such body been constituted on the establishment of the society, the members of the concerned society are competent, upon due notice, to create for itself a governing body to act for the society thenceforth.
  • Expulsion of a member:
    5 The association have the right to manage their affairs by themselves. The association even have the right to expel an erring member by enforcing internal discipline but it is exceptional decision taken only in the exceptional circumstances. After due consideration, the decision is taken cautiously and in strict compliance with law.
In Halsbury's Laws of England it is stated:
  • 201. Expulsion. As a society is founded on a written contract expressing the terms on which the members associate together, there is no inherent power to expel a member, and a member may not therefore be expelled unless the rules provide that power. Any power of expulsion must be exercised in good faith, for the benefit of the society and strictly in accordance with the rules. If rules give the committee or some other authority power to expel a member for some act of disobedience or misconduct on his part, its decision cannot be questioned, provided the decision is arrived at after the member's defense has been heard or he has been given an opportunity of being heard. If a member is not given the opportunity the decision will be null and void. If the rules have been strictly observed, and the member has had due notice and full opportunity of answering the charges made against him and the power of expulsion has been exercised in good faith and for a reason which is not manifestly absurd, no tribunal can interfere to prevent the expulsion.

    In the case of A.C. Muthiah v. Board of Control for Cricket: (2011) 6 SCC 617: 2010 (2) CTC 429, the court stated that when a member is expelled on the allegation of violation of Rules, the Rules violated has to be cited in the show-cause notice. Every Society should state the following grounds in their MOAs for the removal of a member from the society. Resolution for removal of a member should be proposed at the meeting of the General body. Provided that no such resolution shall be passed unless a prior written notice is given to the Member who is sought to be removed. The Notice shall specify the grounds on which the Member is sought to be removed and the conduct for which the removal is being sought. The Member shall thereafter be given an opportunity to present his case against his removal.
  • Resignation from membership:
    Section 15 of the Societies Registration Act 1980 postulates that a person may resign at any time from the membership of the society and such resignation shall be accepted by the General Body, subject to the Member fulfilling any pending obligations and clearing all dues with the Society. A Member willing to resign from the Society should submit a resignation letter to the General Body. It also states that a member has to be served with notice before expulsion and in the absence of notice the aggrieved party would be deemed to be a member of the society. He will not be entitled to vote at the meeting until the up-to-date subscription has not been paid, he can therefore bring suit in the court by virtue of section 13 of the Societies Registration Act.

    In the case of Sarabjit Singh v. All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, AIR 1990 NOC 26 (Del)", the defendant contended that " the Societies Registration Act does not postulate expulsion of any member from the Society. All that it postulates is that a person may resign from the membership of the Society. In case a member is in arrears of subscription for a period of over three months, he is not entitled to vote. The emphasis in Section 15 appears to be on voting alone, as it is reiterated in that section that a person whose subscription is in arrears for a period of more than three months, shall not be counted as a member. Prima fade. a person is likely to be counted as a member only at the meetings of the Society, and when any particular matter is sought to be voted upon, and not otherwise.
  • The High Court of Karnataka in the case of 8 Lingappa Police Patil V Registrar of Societies, by considering section 2(b) of the Karnataka Societies Registration Act (the provision is similar to the provision of the Societies Registration Act.1980), held: - In view of what we have noted hereinabove, it cannot be said that mere non-payment of the subscription would amount to resignation within the meaning of Section 2 (b) of the Act.
  • Non-payment of subscription would also not amount to relinquishment of membership, unless a person is afforded a specific opportunity of making payment by calling upon him to pay the arrears or face the consequences. It is also held that the Rule of the Society which declared a person would cease to be a member merely on his default to make the subscription, without even providing him an opportunity to show cause for not making the payment within a specified period appeared "to be very harsh" and that "confiscatory and deprivative provisions made, resulting in civil consequences, should not have been allowed" to be incorporated in the bye laws. It is on the principle that rules of natural justice require that that no person can be condemned unheard. The Division Bench struck down the impugned Rule, it being contrary to the provisions of the Act.
  • Whom to Approach:
    Any dispute arises among the. members of the society should be referred to the Principal court of original jurisdiction of the district in which the chief building of the society is situated, the dispute relating to the membership of the Society. In TP Daver Vs. Lodge Victoria, it is held that jurisdiction of courts to interfere in cases involving expulsion of a member from the organization is extremely limited, and the Court's enquiry is confined to find out whether the decision making is within the four corners of the rules, and the Courts cannot sit in appeal over the decisions of the organization.

Recent Amendments
According to the 10Societies Registration (amendment) act 2021, any person convicted by the court and awarded sentence of two years or more will be disqualified to be a member and office-bearer of a society registered under the Act. This amendment bill was passed by the UP Assembly in 2021.

Section 3 and 4 has been amended, according to the amendment, the societies aggrieved by the orders passed by the deputy registrar and assistant registrar in the matters of registration would no longer be required to approach the High Court to appeal against in the matters of registration, renewal, selection and election of the office bearers of the society. Instead of approaching High Court, the aggrieved party can appeal in the office of the divisional commissioner.

The other amendment in the Act is the restrictions on the transfer of fixed assets/property of the society registered under the Act. The assets can be transferred to a third party but it can be done only with the approval of the competent court in order to control and prevent the irregularities and malpractices.

The Government has enacted Societies Registration Act, 1860, a central law formed to give the registered societies legal existence for promoting the literature, art, science and charitable activities and regulations for the formation of the societies, registration and functioning which has gone through various amendments to reach the current requirements of the registered society. The States and Union Territories have also adopted this central law with specific amendments according to their requirements.

The Government, in order to promote the non-profit and charitable activities and to disseminate the knowledge, create awareness, has focused and amended this act on time-to-time basis. The erring members of the society can be expelled by the association if they do not strictly comply with the provisions made under the said act.

There are various case laws where the court has awarded judgment on expelling of a member of the society. The member can also resign from the membership of a society but has to submit the resignation letter to the governing body.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Yashika Pondi
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Authentication No: JL355845528871-11-0723

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