A society is an association of persons formed for any literary, scientific or charitable purpose or for any purpose described in Section 20 of the Societies Registration Act, 1860. They are united together by mutual consent to deliberate, determine and act jointly for some common purposes. The Society Registration Act, 1860 lays down the procedure for society registration and operation in India.

A minimum of 7 members is required to form a society under Society Registration Act, 1860. For registering, the members subscribe their names to the memorandum of association and file the same with the Registrar of Companies under this Act.

As per Section 20 of the Societies Act, 1860, a Society can be registered for the following purposes:

  • Grant of charitable assistance.
  • Creation of Military Orphan funds.
  • Promotion of Science.
  • Promotion of Literature.
  • Promotion of Fine Arts.
  • Promotion of useful Knowledge.
  • Diffusion of Political Education.
  • Libraries or reading rooms’ foundation or maintenance.
  • Public Museum or Galleries’ foundation or maintenance.

Apart from the above mentioned purpose, a Society can also be registered for other purposes based on the amendment that has been enacted to the Societies Act, 1860 by the concerned State Government.

The Memorandum of association includes:

  • The name of the company
  • The object of the company
  • The names, addresses and occupations of the governors, councils, directors, committee or other governing body to whom, by the rules of the society, the management of its affairs is entrusted.
  • A copy of the rules and regulations of the society, certified to be a correct copy by not less than three members of the governing body shall be filed with the memorandum of association.

The Memorandum of the Society must be signed by each of the founding members. These signatures must be witnessed by a Gazetted Officer, Oath Commissioner, Notary Public, Advocate, Chartered Accountant or Magistrate with their official stamp and the complete address.


Suits by or against the societies –

Every society registered under this Act may sue or be sued in the name of the President, Chairman, or Principal Secretary, or trustees, in accordance with the rules and regulations of the society.

Property of society, how vested-

The property which belongs to the society, whether movable or immovable registered under the Act shall be deemed to be vested for the time being in the governing body of the society if it is not vested with the trustees. Such property shall be described as the property of the governing body of the society in all the proceedings whether civil or criminal.

Enforcement of judgment against society-

In case there is a judgment, which is recovered against any person or officer named on behalf of the society, such judgment shall not be put in force against the movable or immovable property or against the body of such person or officer but against the property of the society.

Registration of societies formed before Act-

Any company or society that is established for some specific literary, scientific or charitable purpose, and registered under Act 43 of 1850 7, or any such society established and constituted before passing of this Act but not registered under the said Act 43 of 1850, may at any time, hereafter be registered as a society under this Act.

Members are liable to be prosecuted as strangers-

Any member who may be in arrear of a subscription, which, according to the rules of the society he is bound to pay, or who shall possess himself of or detain any property of the society in a manner or for a time contrary to such rules, or shall injure or destroy any property of the society, may be sued for such arrear or for the damage accruing from such detention, injury, or destruction of the property in the manner herein before provided.

Members guilty of offences punishable as strangers-

Any member of the society who shall steal, or misuse any money or other property willfully, and maliciously destroys or damage any property of such society, or shall forge and deed, bond, security for money, receipt, or other instrument, whereby the funds of the society may be exposed to loss, shall be subject to the same prosecution, and, if convicted, shall be liable to be punished in like manner, as any person not a member would be subject and liable to in respect of the like offence.