Societies Registration Act, 1860

The Societies Registration Act, 1860 is a pivotal piece of legislation aimed at regulating and facilitating the registration of various societies. Let’s explore its key aspects:

This topic of “Societies Registration Act, 1860” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Act Overview

  • Act No. 21 of 1860: Enacted as Act No. 21 of 1860, this law provides a legal framework for the registration and management of societies.


  • Register Literary, Scientific, Charitable Societies: The act aims to facilitate the registration of societies dedicated to literary, scientific, and charitable purposes.
  • Improve Legal Condition of Societies: It seeks to enhance the legal status and functioning of registered societies.
  • Promote Literature, Science, Fine Arts: The act endeavors to promote and support endeavors in the fields of literature, science, and fine arts.
  • Diffuse Useful Knowledge, Political Education: It encourages the dissemination of useful knowledge and political education among the public.
  • Charitable Purposes: The act allows for the registration of societies with charitable objectives, including the relief of poverty, education, advancement of religion, and other beneficial purposes.

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  • Formation by Memorandum: Societies are formed by a memorandum which:
    • Requirement: Requires seven or more persons who subscribe their names to the memorandum and file it with the Registrar of Joint-stock Companies.
    • Memorandum Contents: Must include the name of the society, its object, and the names, addresses, and occupations of the governing body.
    • Filing Rules, Regulations: The memorandum, along with rules and regulations, must be certified by three members.
  • Registration and Fees: The registrar certifies registration upon payment of a prescribed fee, which is accounted for by the State Government.
  • Annual List of Managing Body: Societies must file an annual list of the managing body, including their names, addresses, and occupations.
  • Property of Society: The property of the society is vested in the governing body and is described as such in legal proceedings.
  • Legal Provisions for Societies: Various legal provisions govern societies, including:
    • Suits by and Against Societies: Societies can be sued in the name of their President, Chairman, Principal Secretary, or trustees.
    • Suits Not to Abate: Legal actions continue in the name of successors if there is a change in leadership.
    • Enforcement of Judgment Against Society: Judgments are executed against the society’s property, not individuals.
    • Recovery of Penalties: Penalties imposed by bye-laws are recovered through legal proceedings.
    • Members’ Liability: Members are liable for arrears and misuse of property.
    • Members’ Offences: Members can be punished for offences as non-members would be.
  • Alteration of Purposes: Any alteration of the society’s purposes requires a report, special meeting, and approval by members.
  • Dissolution of Societies: Societies can be dissolved with the consent of three-fifths of the members, and the remaining property is distributed as per the governing body or court’s decision.
  • Definitions and Registration: The act defines terms like ‘member’ and ‘governing body’ and allows for the registration of pre-Act societies under its provisions.
  • Inspection and Copies of Documents: Inspection and certified copies of documents are available upon payment of a fee.
  • Applicability of the Act: Various types of societies are eligible for registration under this act.

This act plays a crucial role in providing a legal framework for the formation, functioning, and dissolution of societies, thereby contributing to the promotion of various social, cultural, and charitable endeavors within society.

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