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Friday, September 19, 2014

Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church (TELC) - is not a society - Apex court held that when it is not a society the question of exemption and not to exemption from application of Societies Registration Act - does not arise - all the officers and all the court below failed to take notice of the same under sec. 4 of the Act - Apex court held that In our opinion, the expression “Societies” (registered under the 1860 Act) occurring in Section 53 must be understood to mean only those Societies which do not fall under the exemption granted under Section 4(3) of the Act. Unless the expression “Societies” occurring under Section 53 of the Act is understood to mean Societies other than those whose object is promotion of religion, atheletics or sports, the Act would result in creation of two classes of Societies having the same object, but one class is subjected to the discipline of the Act and the other class exempted from it - all other things being equal except the accident of an existing Society on the date of the Act also happens to be a Society registered under the 1860 Act. Such an interpretation which would be in violation of Article 14 is certainly required to be avoided. There can neither be any reasonable basis for such classification nor any purpose to be achieved by such classification. Therefore, the Act is not applicable to TELC at all. Looked at in the abovementioned background of the statutory scheme, we are of the opinion that the entire litigation between the parties herein is without any basis in law. It resulted in wastage of time of the judiciary as well as the administration. Apparently neither of the parties nor the administration had the time to examine or inclination to examine the scheme of the 1975 Act. We are sorry to say, even the judiciary (Bar & Bench) did not do any better. In view of our above conclusion, it is really not necessary for us to examine various submissions made in this appeal by both the parties as all the submissions proceeded on the assumption that TELC is a Society governed by the provisions of the Act. For the above reasons, the appeal is allowed. The judgment under appeal is set- aside. The second respondent, if he still has any legally tenable grievance de hors the 1975 Act, is free to pursue such remedy to him under the law.= CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8458 OF 2014 (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.9592 of 2012) H.A. Martin & Others …Appellants Versus Moses Thambi Pillai & Others …Respondents = 2014 - Sept. Month - http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41880

 Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church (TELC) - is not a society - Apex court held that when it is not a society the question of exemption and not to exemption from application of Societies Registration Act - does not arise - all the officers and all the court below failed to take notice of the same under sec. 4 of the Act - Apex court held that In  our opinion,  the  expression  “Societies”  (registered  under  the  1860   Act) occurring in Section 53 must be understood  to  mean  only  those  Societies which do not fall under the exemption granted  under  Section  4(3)  of  the Act.  Unless  the  expression “Societies” occurring under Section 53 of the  Act  is  understood  to  mean Societies  other  than  those  whose  object  is  promotion   of   religion, atheletics or sports, the Act would result in creation  of  two  classes  of Societies having the  same  object,  but  one  class  is  subjected  to  the discipline of the Act and the other class  exempted  from  it  -  all  other things being equal except the accident of an existing Society  on  the  date
of the Act also happens to be a  Society  registered  under  the  1860  Act. Such an interpretation  which  would  be  in  violation  of  Article  14  is certainly required to be avoided.    There  can  neither  be  any  reasonable basis for such classification  nor  any  purpose  to  be  achieved  by  such classification.  Therefore, the Act is not applicable to TELC at all. Looked at in the abovementioned background of  the  statutory  scheme, we are of the opinion that the entire litigation between the parties  herein is without any basis in  law.  
 It  resulted  in  wastage  of  time  of  the judiciary as well as the administration.  Apparently neither of the  parties nor the administration had the time to examine  or  inclination  to  examine the scheme of the 1975 Act.  We are sorry to say, even the judiciary (Bar  & Bench) did not do any better. In view of our above conclusion, it is really not necessary for us  to
examine various submissions made in this appeal by both the parties  as  all the submissions proceeded on the assumption that TELC is a Society  governed by the provisions of the Act.
 For the above reasons, the appeal  is  allowed.   The  judgment  under appeal is set- aside.  
The second respondent, if he still  has  any  legally tenable grievance de hors the 1975  Act,  is  free  to  pursue  such  remedy to him under the law.=


A Society came to be registered in the year 1919  called  Tamil  Evangelical
Lutheran Church (TELC)=

Tamil  Nadu
Societies Registration Act, 1975 (27 of 1975) (for short “the Act”)    
 “53. Application of Act to existing  registered  societies.—  Every  society
registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 (Central  Act  XXI  of
1860), or  under  any  law  corresponding  to  this  Act  in  force  in  the
transferred territory immediately before the date  of  the  commencement  of
this  Act  including  the   Travancore-Cochin   Literary,   Scientific   and
Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955 (Travancore-Cochin  Act  XII  of
1955), shall be deemed to be registered under this Act, and the bye-laws  of
such society, shall, in so  far  as  they  are  not  inconsistent  with  any
provision of this Act, continue in force until altered or rescinded.”
=
 By G.O. Ms. No.1708 dated 18.12.1981, the  Government  of  Tamil  Nadu
exempted the Society retrospectively from 22.4.1978 from  the  operation  of
Sections 15(4), 25(3) and 29(3) of the Act, the relevant  portion  of  which is extracted hereunder:

“In exercise of powers conferred by Section 54 of  the  Tamilnadu  Societies
Registration Act, 1975 (Tamil Nadu Act 27 of 1975)  the  Governor  of  Tamil
Nadu hereby exempts with retrospective effect from 22.4.1978:

The President or Bishop of the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church alone  from
the provision of sub-section (4) of Section 15 of  the  Tamilnadu  Societies
Registration Act 1975 regarding the period of his term that  it  should  not
exceed more than three years; this exemption will not  apply  to  the  other
members of the church council.

Also exempts the Church from the provision of sub-section (3) of section  25
of the Tamilnadu Societies Registration Act 1975 so as to ratify the  action
of the church in having paid  the  salary  from  out  of  its  fund  to  the
President  or  full  time  workers  of  the  Church  who  come   under   the
classification of “Officers” within the meaning of clause (g) of  section  2
of the said Act.

And also exempts the  church  from  the  provision  of  sub-section  (3)  of
section 29 of the Tamilnadu Societies Registration Act 1975 subject  to  the
condition that necessary provisions are embodied  in  the  bye-laws  of  the
society for the supply of copies of minutes of  the  society’s  meeting  and
Financial  statements  to  the  members  at  specified  intervals,  free  of
charge.”

                                                         (emphasis supplied)
 =

However, certain  differences  of  opinion
arose between Rt. Rev. Aruldoss and some  of  the  members  of  the  Society
including the first respondent herein.
The  first  respondent  herein  and
others filed complaints dated 3.8.2001  and  28.6.2002  with  the  Inspector
General of Registration praying for cancellation of  the  G.O.  Ms.  No.1708
dated  18.12.1981  etc.   
The  substance  of  the  complaint  was  that  the
President and other office bearers of the Society were continuously  drawing
salaries from the Society’s funds.
Such payments are prohibited  under  the
Act and the G.O. Ms. No.1708 dated 18.12.1981 only ratified  the  action  of
the Society in having paid some amounts till  the  date  of  the  order  but
there  was  no  exemption  enabling  the  Society  to  make  such   payments
subsequent to the date of the said Government order.  
The Inspector  General
of Registration passed an order dated 23.7.2002. =

The first respondent filed Writ Petition No.32494 of  2002  seeking  a
direction  to  the  Government  to  take   appropriate   decision   on   his
representation dated 3.8.2001 seeking  cancellation  of  the  above mentioned
G.O.
The said writ petition was disposed of  by  an  order  dated  7.8.2002
directing the Government to consider  the  petitioner’s  representation  and
pass an appropriate order on merits in accordance with law.=

 Thereafter, another application came to  be  made  by  the  Bishop  on
25.11.2002 seeking complete exemption from the operation  of  Section  25(3)
of the Act praying as follows:
“(1)  to ratify the salary paid to its workers from the date  on  which  the
Government order was passed to this date; and

(2)   to modify the exemption so granted by removing the words:

“… or full time workers of the Church who come under the  classification  of
Officers within the meaning of clauses (g) of Section  2  of  the  Act”  and
substituting with the following words:

“… or any other officer of the Church Society by way of honorarium  for  any
service rendered by him to the Church Society in  future  also  as  per  the
main provisions of the Tamilnadu Registration Act of 1975, Section 25(3)”.”

15.   The first respondent filed another  Writ  Petition  No.45886  of  2002
praying that
 (i) the proceedings of the government dated 8.11.2002  referred
to above be implemented, 
(ii) for a direction to  forbear  the  Bishop  from
functioning as the President of the Society (TELC), 
(iii)  a  direction  for
the recovery of all the amounts that have been paid  to  the  President  and
the officers of the Society (TELC) from out of  the  funds  of  the  Society
from 19.12.1981.  
The writ petition was allowed by order  dated  11.12.2006.
Aggrieved by the same, the Writ Appeal No.481  of  2007  was  filed  by  the
appellants herein unsuccessfully. =

At this stage, we are required to examine the effect  of  Section  53.
No doubt, Section 53 declares that every Society registered under  the  1860
Act shall be deemed to be registered under the  1975  Act.   Question  is  –
whether a Society such  as  TELC  is  required  to  be  treated  as  Society
registered under the Act (1975 Act) in view of the operation of Section  53?


23.   We are of the opinion that such a construction is not  called  for  in
view of the scheme of the Act and more particularly scheme of Section  4  of
the Act.  We have already noticed that Section 4(3) expressly  excludes  the
operation of Section 4(1) and 4(2) thereby relieving  both  the  classes  of
Societies - the Societies formed after coming  into  the  existence  of  the
1975 Act and the Societies which were in existence but not registered  under
any law prior to the commencement of the 1975 Act - covered by Section  4(1)
and 4(2) which have for their object the  promotion  of  religion.   
In  our
opinion,  the  expression  “Societies”  (registered  under  the  1860   Act)
occurring in Section 53 must be understood  to  mean  only  those  Societies
which do not fall under the exemption granted  under  Section  4(3)  of  the
Act.  
Otherwise the operation of the Act would  result  in  such  an  absurd
situation where Societies coming into existence after  the  commencement  of
the Act or unregistered Societies existing on the date of  the  commencement
of the Act are not obliged to register and comply  with  the  discipline  of
the Act but the existing registered Societies on the  date  of  commencement
of the Act are obliged to comply with the regulatory conditions of the  Act,
notwithstanding the fact that the activity of all the  above mentioned  three
classes of the Societies is to  promote  religion.   
Unless  the  expression
“Societies” occurring under Section 53 of the  Act  is  understood  to  mean
Societies  other  than  those  whose  object  is  promotion   of   religion,
atheletics or sports, the Act would result in creation  of  two  classes  of
Societies having the  same  object,  but  one  class  is  subjected  to  the
discipline of the Act and the other class  exempted  from  it  -  all  other
things being equal except the accident of an existing Society  on  the  date
of the Act also happens to be a  Society  registered  under  the  1860  Act.
Such an interpretation  which  would  be  in  violation  of  Article  14  is
certainly required to be avoided.   
There  can  neither  be  any  reasonable
basis for such classification  nor  any  purpose  to  be  achieved  by  such
classification.  Therefore, the Act is not applicable to TELC at all.

24.   Looked at in the abovementioned background of  the  statutory  scheme,
we are of the opinion that the entire litigation between the parties  herein
is without any basis in  law.  
 It  resulted  in  wastage  of  time  of  the
judiciary as well as the administration.  
Apparently neither of the  parties
nor the administration had the time to examine  or  inclination  to  examine
the scheme of the 1975 Act.  
We are sorry to say, even the judiciary (Bar  & Bench) did not do any better.

25.   In view of our above conclusion, it is really not necessary for us  to
examine various submissions made in this appeal by both the parties  as  all
the submissions proceeded on the assumption that TELC is a Society  governed
by the provisions of the Act.

26.   For the above reasons, the appeal  is  allowed.   
The  judgment  under appeal is set- aside.  
The second respondent, if he still  has  any  legally tenable grievance de hors the 1975  Act,  is  free  to  pursue  such  remedy to him under the law.

27.   In the facts and circumstances of the case, there will be no order  as
to costs.


2014 - Sept. Month - http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41880  

                                                        Reportable
                        IN THE SUPREME COUR OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO.  8458  OF 2014
       (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.9592 of 2012)


H.A. Martin & Others                         …Appellants

            Versus

Moses Thambi Pillai & Others                 …Respondents




                               J U D G M E N T

Chelameswar, J.


1.    Leave granted.

2.    Aggrieved by the judgment dated 28.2.2011 of  the  Division  Bench  of
the High Court in Writ Appeal No.481 of  2011  the  unsuccessful  appellants
therein preferred the instant appeal.

3.    The appellants are three in number.  The first appellant Rt. Rev.  Dr.
H.A. Martin is the present Bishop of the Tamil Evangelical  Lutheran  Church
(for short “TELC”).   The second appellant is  shown  to  be  the  Treasure.
The details  of  the  person  holding  such  an  office  are  not  mentioned
anywhere.  The third appellant is the TELC,  a  body  registered  under  the
Societies Registration Act, 1860 which is not capable  either  of  suing  or
being sued[1].  The ‘appellants’ cannot be  blamed.   The  first  respondent
herein was the petitioner in the writ petition.  He  chose  his  respondents
who  became  the  appellants  herein.    In  an  era  of   public   interest
litigation, rules of procedure are the first casualty.

4.    The facts giving rise to this litigation are as follows:

A Society came to be registered in the year 1919  called  Tamil  Evangelical
Lutheran Church (TELC).   The  objects  of  the  Society  are  diffusion  of
Christian truth among the Tamil speaking people,  various  kinds  of  “moral
and social activities,  such  as,  teaching  and  healing  through  pastoral
evangelistic, educational works, medical work for the  amelioration  of  the
religious moral and social conditions of all classes of people.”

5.    In the year 1975, the State of  Tamil  Nadu  enacted  the  Tamil  Nadu
Societies Registration Act, 1975 (27 of 1975) (for short “the Act”).   Under
Section 53 of the Act, every  Society  registered  under  the  1860  Act  is
deemed to be registered under the Act.  Section 53 reads as under:
“53. Application of Act to existing  registered  societies.—  Every  society
registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 (Central  Act  XXI  of
1860), or  under  any  law  corresponding  to  this  Act  in  force  in  the
transferred territory immediately before the date  of  the  commencement  of
this  Act  including  the   Travancore-Cochin   Literary,   Scientific   and
Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955 (Travancore-Cochin  Act  XII  of
1955), shall be deemed to be registered under this Act, and the bye-laws  of
such society, shall, in so  far  as  they  are  not  inconsistent  with  any
provision of this Act, continue in force until altered or rescinded.”

                                                         (emphasis supplied)

6.    It appears that an application was made by the earlier Bishop and  the
President of the TELC to the Government to exempt  the  TELC  from  all  the
provisions of the Act retrospectively  from  22.4.1978.   (Unfortunately,  a
copy of the representation is not made available  nor  any  details  of  the
same are available on  record).   The  Government  declined  to  grant  such
blanket exemption and advised the Society to  be  more  specific  about  the
provisions from the operation of which the Society seeks exemption.

7.    Pursuant to the  said  advice,  the  Secretary  of  the  Society  made
further  representation  dated  25.7.1981   seeking   exemption   from   the
provisions of Sections 14, 15(3)(4)(5),  25(3),  26(1)(4),  28(1)(2),  29(3)
and 36 of the Act.

8.    By G.O. Ms. No.1708 dated 18.12.1981, the  Government  of  Tamil  Nadu
exempted the Society retrospectively from 22.4.1978 from  the  operation  of
Sections 15(4), 25(3) and 29(3) of the Act, the relevant  portion  of  which
is extracted hereunder:

“In exercise of powers conferred by Section 54 of  the  Tamilnadu  Societies
Registration Act, 1975 (Tamil Nadu Act 27 of 1975)  the  Governor  of  Tamil
Nadu hereby exempts with retrospective effect from 22.4.1978:

The President or Bishop of the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church alone  from
the provision of sub-section (4) of Section 15 of  the  Tamilnadu  Societies
Registration Act 1975 regarding the period of his term that  it  should  not
exceed more than three years; this exemption will not  apply  to  the  other
members of the church council.

Also exempts the Church from the provision of sub-section (3) of section  25
of the Tamilnadu Societies Registration Act 1975 so as to ratify the  action
of the church in having paid  the  salary  from  out  of  its  fund  to  the
President  or  full  time  workers  of  the  Church  who  come   under   the
classification of “Officers” within the meaning of clause (g) of  section  2
of the said Act.

And also exempts the  church  from  the  provision  of  sub-section  (3)  of
section 29 of the Tamilnadu Societies Registration Act 1975 subject  to  the
condition that necessary provisions are embodied  in  the  bye-laws  of  the
society for the supply of copies of minutes of  the  society’s  meeting  and
Financial  statements  to  the  members  at  specified  intervals,  free  of
charge.”

                                                         (emphasis supplied)


9.    Not satisfied with the said order, the Secretary  of  the  TELC  filed
the Writ Petition No.523 of 1982 seeking declaration that the  Act  is  void
and inapplicable to the TELC and its  constituent  bodies.   The  said  writ
petition was dismissed by an order dated 20.2.1990,  the  operative  portion
of which reads as under:
“When the writ petition came  up  for  final  disposal,  learned  Government
Pleader would  submit  that  though  a  counter  affidavit  had  been  filed
contending that the aforesaid provision of the Act are  valid  and  are  not
violative of constitutional provisions yet  the  Government  would  consider
any representation made by the petitioner for  grant  of  exemption  in  the
light of the decided  cases.   Having  regard  to  this  submission  of  the
learned Government Pleader while dismissing the writ petition  as  premature
and not on merits, the petitioner is  given  a  liberty  to  file  a  report
before the Government  on  or  before  31.12.1990,  pleading  for  grant  of
exemption from such provisions of the  Societies  Registration  Act  as  the
petitioner may desire and on such representation being made, orders  thereon
would be passed by the first respondent on or before 30th April, 1991.

It is of course necessary to state that the Government  itself  had  granted
exemption in favour of the  minority  institutions  from  the  operation  of
certain provisions of the Act like sections 15, 20 and  29.  The  petitioner
seeks relief in respect of the remaining provisions of  the  Act  which  are
mentioned supra.”


10.   In the meanwhile the predecessor-in-interest of  the  first  appellant
herein, one Rt. Rev. Aruldoss, was elected as Bishop in terms of  the  rules
of the Society and by virtue of the rules of the Society he also became  the
President of the Society (TELC).  However, certain  differences  of  opinion
arose between Rt. Rev. Aruldoss and some  of  the  members  of  the  Society
including the first respondent herein.   The  first  respondent  herein  and
others filed complaints dated 3.8.2001  and  28.6.2002  with  the  Inspector
General of Registration praying for cancellation of  the  G.O.  Ms.  No.1708
dated  18.12.1981  etc.   The  substance  of  the  complaint  was  that  the
President and other office bearers of the Society were continuously  drawing
salaries from the Society’s funds.  Such payments are prohibited  under  the
Act and the G.O. Ms. No.1708 dated 18.12.1981 only ratified  the  action  of
the Society in having paid some amounts till  the  date  of  the  order  but
there  was  no  exemption  enabling  the  Society  to  make  such   payments
subsequent to the date of the said Government order.  The Inspector  General
of Registration passed an order dated 23.7.2002.

11.   It is difficult to state with precision as to what  are  the  contents
of  the  said  order.   But,  it  appears  that  the  Inspector  General  of
Registration agreed with the complaint.

12.   The first respondent filed Writ Petition No.32494 of  2002  seeking  a
direction  to  the  Government  to  take   appropriate   decision   on   his
representation dated 3.8.2001 seeking  cancellation  of  the  abovementioned
G.O.  The said writ petition was disposed of  by  an  order  dated  7.8.2002
directing the Government to consider  the  petitioner’s  representation  and
pass an appropriate order on merits in accordance with law.

13.   Pursuant to the said direction, the Government issued  proceedings  by
Letter No.(Ms) No.128 dated 8.11.2002, the relevant portion of  which  reads
as follows:
“(iii)      Exemption  from  Section  25(3)  of  the  Act  was  granted  for
ratifying the action of the Church in having paid the  salary  from  out  of
its funds to  the  President  or  full  time  worker  of  the  Church.   The
Government only ratified the action of the Society  in  having  paid  salary
from 29.4.1978 to the date on which  Government  order  was  issued  and  no
payment has to be made thereafter since the society was  not  exempted  from
the above provision for the future.”

14.   Thereafter, another application came to  be  made  by  the  Bishop  on
25.11.2002 seeking complete exemption from the operation  of  Section  25(3)
of the Act praying as follows:
“(1)  to ratify the salary paid to its workers from the date  on  which  the
Government order was passed to this date; and

(2)   to modify the exemption so granted by removing the words:

“… or full time workers of the Church who come under the  classification  of
Officers within the meaning of clauses (g) of Section  2  of  the  Act”  and
substituting with the following words:

“… or any other officer of the Church Society by way of honorarium  for  any
service rendered by him to the Church Society in  future  also  as  per  the
main provisions of the Tamilnadu Registration Act of 1975, Section 25(3)”.”




15.   The first respondent filed another  Writ  Petition  No.45886  of  2002
praying that (i) the proceedings of the government dated 8.11.2002  referred
to above be implemented, (ii) for a direction to  forbear  the  Bishop  from
functioning as the President of the Society (TELC), (iii)  a  direction  for
the recovery of all the amounts that have been paid  to  the  President  and
the officers of the Society (TELC) from out of  the  funds  of  the  Society
from 19.12.1981.  The writ petition was allowed by order  dated  11.12.2006.
Aggrieved by the same, the Writ Appeal No.481  of  2007  was  filed  by  the
appellants herein unsuccessfully.

16.    Before  we  proceed  to  examine  the  correctness  of  the  impugned
judgment, we deem appropriate to examine the scheme of the  Act  insofar  as
it is relevant for the present purpose.

17.   Chapter II of the Act deals with the constitution and registration  of
the Societies.  Section 3[2] stipulates that any Society which has  for  its
object the promotion of education, literature, science,  religion,  charity,
social reform, art, crafts etc. may be registered under the Act.
18.   Section 4[3] declares that every Society formed on or after  the  date
of the commencement of the Act, consisting not less than twenty members;  or
whose annual gross income or expenditure in any  financial  year  after  the
date of the commencement of the Act is not less than  ten  thousand  rupees,
shall be registered under the  Act.   Section  4(2)  stipulates  that  every
existing Society, NOT registered under the 1860 Act  with  any  one  of  the
objects specified in Section 3, and which consists of not less  than  twenty
members or whose annual income or expenditure in any financial year  is  not
less than ten thousand rupees  etc.  shall  be  registered  under  the  Act.
However, sub-section (3)  of  Section  4  declares  that  “nothing  in  this
section shall apply to any Society which has for its  object  the  promotion
of religion, athletics or sports including indoor games”.

19.   Chapter III of the Act deals with the  management  and  administration
of the registered Society.  Section 15(1)[4] mandates that every  registered
Society shall have a committee of not less than three members to manage  its
affairs.  Section  15(4)[5]  limits  the  tenure  of  such  members  of  the
Committee for a period of three years from the date of their appointment.

20.   Section 25(1)[6] of the Act recognizes the power  of  the  Society  to
spend such amount out of its  funds  as  it  thinks  fit  for  the  purposes
authorised by the  Act  or  the  bye-laws  of  the  Society.  Section  25(2)
prescribes some restrictions on the expenditure by the Society, the  details
of which are not necessary for our purpose.  Sub-section (3)  which  is  the
relevant provision for the decision in this case reads as follows:
“Save as provided in sub-section (2), no payment shall be made  out  of  the
funds of a registered society to the president or any other officer  of  the
society by way of  honorarium  for  any  service  rendered  by  him  to  the
society.”


21.   Various provisions of the Act seek to regulate the activities  of  the
Societies registered under the Act. The expression “registered  society”  by
definition under Section 2(h) means a Society either  registered  or  deemed
to be registered under the Act.  Section 3  of  the  Act  specifies  various
classes of Societies which could be registered under the Act i.e.  Societies
which  have  for  their  object  the  promotion  of  education,  literature,
science, religion, charity, social reform, art, crafts  etc.   Section  4(1)
mandates that Societies which came into existence after the commencement  of
the  Act  to  be  compulsorily  registered.  Section   4(2)   mandates   the
registration of some Societies which were in existence as  on  the  date  of
existence of the Act.  It can be seen from  the  language  of  Section  4(2)
that only those existing Societies which were not  registered  either  under
the 1860 Act or under any other law which was  in  force  in  the  State  of
Tamil Nadu prior to the  1975  Act  to  be  compulsorily  registered.   Such
obligation  to  compulsorily  register  (Societies)  arising  either   under
Section 4(1) or Section 4(2) does not extend to Societies  whose  object  is
the  promotion  of  religion.  Because   under   Section   4(3),   Societies
established with the object of promoting either religion  or  atheletics  or
sports, are expressly excluded from the obligations even if they answer  the
description of a Society referred to, either under Section 4(1) or 4(2).

22.   At this stage, we are required to examine the effect  of  Section  53.
No doubt, Section 53 declares that every Society registered under  the  1860
Act shall be deemed to be registered under the  1975  Act.   Question  is  –
whether a Society such  as  TELC  is  required  to  be  treated  as  Society
registered under the Act (1975 Act) in view of the operation of Section  53?


23.   We are of the opinion that such a construction is not  called  for  in
view of the scheme of the Act and more particularly scheme of Section  4  of
the Act.  We have already noticed that Section 4(3) expressly  excludes  the
operation of Section 4(1) and 4(2) thereby relieving  both  the  classes  of
Societies - the Societies formed after coming  into  the  existence  of  the
1975 Act and the Societies which were in existence but not registered  under
any law prior to the commencement of the 1975 Act - covered by Section  4(1)
and 4(2) which have for their object the  promotion  of  religion.   In  our
opinion,  the  expression  “Societies”  (registered  under  the  1860   Act)
occurring in Section 53 must be understood  to  mean  only  those  Societies
which do not fall under the exemption granted  under  Section  4(3)  of  the
Act.  Otherwise the operation of the Act would  result  in  such  an  absurd
situation where Societies coming into existence after  the  commencement  of
the Act or unregistered Societies existing on the date of  the  commencement
of the Act are not obliged to register and comply  with  the  discipline  of
the Act but the existing registered Societies on the  date  of  commencement
of the Act are obliged to comply with the regulatory conditions of the  Act,
notwithstanding the fact that the activity of all the  abovementioned  three
classes of the Societies is to  promote  religion.   Unless  the  expression
“Societies” occurring under Section 53 of the  Act  is  understood  to  mean
Societies  other  than  those  whose  object  is  promotion   of   religion,
atheletics or sports, the Act would result in creation  of  two  classes  of
Societies having the  same  object,  but  one  class  is  subjected  to  the
discipline of the Act and the other class  exempted  from  it  -  all  other
things being equal except the accident of an existing Society  on  the  date
of the Act also happens to be a  Society  registered  under  the  1860  Act.
Such an interpretation  which  would  be  in  violation  of  Article  14  is
certainly required to be avoided.   There  can  neither  be  any  reasonable
basis for such classification  nor  any  purpose  to  be  achieved  by  such
classification.  Therefore, the Act is not applicable to TELC at all.

24.   Looked at in the abovementioned background of  the  statutory  scheme,
we are of the opinion that the entire litigation between the parties  herein
is without any basis in  law.   It  resulted  in  wastage  of  time  of  the
judiciary as well as the administration.  Apparently neither of the  parties
nor the administration had the time to examine  or  inclination  to  examine
the scheme of the 1975 Act.  We are sorry to say, even the judiciary (Bar  &
Bench) did not do any better.

25.   In view of our above conclusion, it is really not necessary for us  to
examine various submissions made in this appeal by both the parties  as  all
the submissions proceeded on the assumption that TELC is a Society  governed
by the provisions of the Act.

26.   For the above reasons, the appeal  is  allowed.   The  judgment  under
appeal is set- aside.  The second respondent, if he still  has  any  legally
tenable grievance de hors the 1975  Act,  is  free  to  pursue  such  remedy
available to him under the law.

27.   In the facts and circumstances of the case, there will be no order  as
to costs.

                                                               ………………………….J.
                                                              (J.
Chelameswar)


                                                              ……………………..….J.
                                                      (A.K. Sikri)
New Delhi;
September 04, 2014

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[1]    Section 6. Suits by and against societies.— Every society  registered
under this Act may sue or be sued in the name  of  President,  Chairman,  or
Principal Secretary, or trustees, as shall be determined by  the  rules  and
regulations of the society and, in default of  such  determination,  in  the
name of such person as shall be appointed by  the  governing  body  for  the
occasion:
      Provided that it shall be competent for any person having a claim,  or
demand against the society, to sue the President or Chairman,  or  Principal
Secretary or the trustees thereof, if  on  application  the  governing  body
some other officer or person be not nominated to be the defendant.

[2]    Section 3 - Societies which may be registered – (1)  Subject  to  the
provisions of sub-section (2), any society which  has  for  its  object  the
promotion of  education,  literature,  science,  religion,  charity,  social
reform,  art,  crafts,  cottage  industries,  athletics,  sports  (including
indoor  games),  recreation,  public  health,   social   service,   cultural
activities, the diffusion of useful knowledge or such  other  useful  object
with respect to which the State Legislature has power to make laws  for  the
State, which may be prescribed, may be registered under this Act.

       (2)   Notwithstanding  anything  contained  in  sub-section  (1)   no
association which has  for  its  object  the  improvement  of  the  economic
condition of workmen, no club where games of  chance  providing  prizes  for
winners are played and no society which does not consist of at  least  seven
persons shall be registered under this Act.

[3]    Section 4 -  Compulsory  registration  of  certain  societies  –  (1)
Subject to the provisions of sub-sections (3) and (4), every society  formed
on or after the date of the commencement of this  Act,  which  has  for  its
object any object mentioned in, or prescribed under section 3, and

      which consists of not less than twenty members, or
      whose annual gross income or expenditure in any financial  year  after
the date of the commencement of this Act, is  not  less  than  ten  thousand
rupees,

      shall be registered under this  Act  within  such  period  as  may  be
prescribed.

      Every society in existence on the date of commencement  of  this  Act,
which has for its object  any  object  mentioned  in,  or  prescribed  under
section  3  and  which  has  not  been  registered   under   the   Societies
Registration Act,  1860  (Central  Act  XXI  of  1860),  or  under  any  law
corresponding to this Act in force in the transferred territory  immediately
before the date of the commencement of this Act  including  the  Travancore-
Cochin Literary, Scientific  and  Charitable  Socieities  Registration  Act,
1955 (Travancore-Cochin Act XII of 1955) and

      which consists of not less than twenty members; or
      whose annual gross income or expenditure in any financial  year  after
the date of the commencement of this Act, is  not  less  than  ten  thousand
rupees; or
      whose gross income or expenditure in any  such  period  preceding  the
date of the commencement of this Act, was not less than such amount, as  may
be prescribed, the period so prescribed, bearing to twelve months  the  same
proportion as the amount so prescribed bears to ten thousand rupees;

      shall be registered under this  Act  within  such  period  as  may  be
prescribed.

      Nothing in this section shall apply to any society which has  for  its
object the promotion of religion, atheletics  or  sports  (including  indoor
games).

      Nothing contained in this Act shall be deemed to require the
registration under this Act of any society formed, established, registered
or incorporated under any other law.
[4]    Section 15. Committee – (1) Every registered  society  shall  have  a
committee of not less than three  members  to  manage  its  affairs.   Every
registered society shall file with the Registrar  a  copy  of  the  register
maintained by it under sub-section (1) of Section 14 and from time to  time,
file with the Registrar notice of  any  change  among  the  members  of  the
committee.

[5]    Section 15(4) - The term of office of the members of the committee
shall not exceed three years from the date of their appointment.
[6]   . Section 25 - Application of funds of  a  registered  society.—(1)  A
registered society shall have power to spend out of its funds such  sums  as
it thinks fit on purposes authorised by this Act or its bye-laws.

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