Societies are membership organizations that may be registered for charitable purposes. A governing council or a managing committee usually manages societies. Societies are governed by the Societies Registration Act 1860, which has been adopted by various states. Unlike trusts, societies may be dissolved.
The Societies Registration Act governs societies, 1860, which is an all-India Act. Many states, however, have some differences in the Act. Societies are similar in character to trusts, although there are a few essential differences. While only two individuals are required to form a trust, minimums of seven individuals are required to form a society. The applicants must register the society with the state Registrar of Societies having jurisdiction in order to be eligible to apply for tax-exempt status. A registration application includes the society's memorandum of association and rules and regulations. In general, Indian citizens serve as members of the managing committee or governing council of societies, although there is no prohibition in the Societies Registration Act against non-natural legal persons or foreigners serving in this capacity.
According to section 20 of the Act, the types of societies that may be registered under the Act include, but are not limited to, the following:
Societies established for the promotion of science, literature, education, or the fine arts; and Public art museums and galleries, and certain other types of museums. The governance of societies also differs from that of trusts; a governing council usually manages societies or managing committee, whereas their trustees govern trusts.
Individuals or institutions or both may be members of a society. The general body of members delegates the management of day-to-day affairs to the managing committee, which is usually elected by the membership. Members of the general body of the society have voting rights and can demand the submission of accounts and the annual report of the society for inspection. Members of the managing committee may hold office for such period of time as may be specified in the bylaws of the society.
Society, unlike a trust, must annually file a list of the names, addresses and occupations of their managing committee members with the Registrar of Societies. Furthermore, in a society, all property is held in the name of the society, whereas all of the property of a trust legally vests in the trustees.
Unlike trusts, societies may be dissolved. Dissolution must be approved by at least three-fifths of the society's members. Upon dissolution, and after the 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.
Societies are membership organizations that may be registered for charitable purposes. A governing council or a managing committee usually manages societies. Societies are governed by the Societies Registration Act 1860, which has been adopted by various states. Unlike trusts, societies may be dissolved. The Societies Registration Act governs societies, 1860, which is an all-India Act. Many states, however, have variants on the Act.
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