The Societies Registration Act, 1860


The Societies Registration Act, 1860 (‘Act’) provided for the registration of literary, scientific and charitable societies. The object of this Act, as enunciated in its preamble, was to make provisions for improving the legal conditions of societies established for the promotion of literature, science or the fine art, or for the diffusion of useful knowledge, the diffusion of political, educational or for charitable purposes. The Act was a central legislation. Also, as per the societies registered in the respective states have to follow the law governing in that state.

Prior to 2001, the law relating to registration of a society in Andhra Pradesh was governed by:

  • the Societies Registration Act, 1860, in the Andhra Area of the state, and,
  • the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area) Public Societies Registration Act, 1350 Fasli, in the Telangana Area of the state.

The not-for-profit entities in India continue to be regulated by pre-independence era statutes (i.e., Societies Registration Act, 1860; Indian Trusts Act, 1882; and Indian Partnership Act, 1932) at the central level. These statutes have been subjected to multiple state amendments and heterogeneous state-level enforcement/ registration mechanisms over the years which are unsuitable to meet the practical needs of such entities in the light of changed economic realities. In this article focus is made on central act and also on The Andhra Pradesh Societies Registration Act, 2001.


Any seven or more persons associated for any literary, scientific, or charitable purpose, or for any such purpose as mentioned in the Act, may, by subscribing their names to the memorandum of association, and filing the same with concerned authority form themselves a society under this Act.

As per Section 20 of Registration of Society Act, 1860, the following societies may be registered under this Act:-

  1. Charitable societies,
  2. The military orphan funds or societies established at the several presidencies of India,
  3. Societies established for the promotion of science, literature, or the fine arts, for instruction, the diffusion of useful knowledge, (the diffusion of Political education),
  4. The foundation or maintenance of libraries or reading-rooms for general use among the members or open to the public, or public museum and galleries of paintings and other works of arts, collection of natural history, mechanical and philosophical inventions, instruments or designs.

Constitution of Society

The constitution of any society, mandal, religious sangh or welfare association etc, should be divided into two parts.


It includes the various Clauses as follows:

  1. Name Clause
  2. Object Clause
  3. General Body Member Clause


It normally includes the following Clauses:

  1. Membership Clause
  2. Subscription Clause
  3. Meeting Clause
  4. Committee/ Governing Body Clause
  5. Auditor
  6. Legal Procedure
  7. Dissolution

The above Rules & Regulations ( Bye-Laws) are to be certified by three office bearers at the end of each page. Three Officials may be the Chairman, President and Vice President.

The Bye-Laws must contain provisions relating to, among other things, the activities, membership, finances, appointment/election/removal of office bearers of the society, settlement of internal disputes, dissolution of the society etc. And there are always chances that the registrar of societies will add some words or delete some words.

All the documents mentioned above are required to be submitted in duplicate, together with the required registration fee. Except for mahila mandals, registration fee for all NGOs is Rs 50. Mahila mandals are required to pay a registration fee of Rs 10.

Upon receiving the set of documents, the registrar’s office issues a certificate to the society once the verification procedure is complete. While filing the registration papers, it is important to bear in mind that a society by the same name is not already registered in the state.

Documentation Required for Registering a Society

1        Covering Letter.
2        Memorandum Of Association And Rules & Regulations.
3        Table containing Names, Address and Occupation of all the Members along with their signatures.
4        Certified Copy of Duly Passed Resolution for Registration of Society.
5        Minutes of the Meeting.
6        Declaration by the President of the Society.
7        Address Proof.

Obligations of the society registered under A.P Societies Registration Act

A few key obligations imposed upon societies that are registered under the A.P Societies Registration Act, are as follows:

  1. Every society must display its name outside its office premises in a conspicuous position, legible, in the language in general use in that place.
  2. Every society must give notice of any change in location of its registered office to the Registrar, within 28 days of such change.
  3. Every year, the society must furnish to the Registrar a list containing the names and addresses of the members of the Managing Committee and officers entrusted with the management of the affairs of the society, within 15 days from the date on which the General Body meeting is held.
  4. Every society must file with the Registrar, every amendment or alteration carried out in its Memorandum of Association, and its Bye-Laws.
  5. Every society must keep at its office, a copy of the Act, a copy of its registered Memorandum of Association and Bye-Laws, minutes book, up-to-date register of members, and such other documents as prescribed by the Act.
  6. Every society must deliver a copy of its Bye-Laws to each member at the time of admission, and must supply to every member a copy of balance sheet or statement of accounts together with the auditor’s report at its Annual General Body meeting.
  7. Every society must record the minutes of all proceedings of every General Body meeting and every committee meeting in a minutes book, and communicate the minutes of the meeting to all members invited for the meeting.
  8. Every society must keep at its registered office, a register of mortgages and charges in which details of all mortgages and charges affecting the property of the society must be recorded.

Differences between Trust and Society:

  1. Charter : The main document for the trust is Trust Deed whereas for the societies it is Bye laws rules & regulations.
  2. Members: Minimum of two members are required and there is no maximum limit for formation of trust. Minimum of Seven  members are required and there is no maximum limit for formation of trust.
  3. Meeting : The Indian Trust Act doesn’t contain any provision regarding the meeting of persons, but conducting an Annual General Meeting is mandatory as per the law.


  1. So, from the above it is clear that that any Sanstha/ Sangh/ Mandal can be registered under Society Registration Act, 1860 provided the Society is for Charitable Purpose and the proper documents have been, as discussed above, submitted with the Department. Generally the time taken to register the Society is One Month.
  2. The NGOs registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, are ‘not-for-profit’ organizations, and as such they are prohibited from distributing any monetary residual to their own members.

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