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Kerala High Court Requests Centre To Consider Enacting Law To Uniformly Regulate Religious & Charitable Organizations

Navya Benny
27 Oct 2022 1:00 PM GMT
Kerala High Court

The Kerala High Court on Thursday requested the Central Government to explore the possibility of a uniform Central legislation to regulate the functioning of charitable organizations and religious institutions.

Justice P. Somarajan made the above request while addressing the issue of massive encroachment upon Government properties, particularly by religious/ charitable institutions, and the inaction on part of the Government, political leaders and the society at large in this regard.

The Court referred to the results of a Study conducted by Ministry of Statistics & Programme in 2012, which revealed the existence of 31,74,420 non-profit institutions across India. The Study had found that the number of unregistered organizations in the country were in fact, more than the number of such registered institutions.

"There is no single central legislation which lays down the law governing charity or charitable organizations in India. Now the term 'charity' is largely used to accumulate wealth and property under that guise and to give away the same without accounting the same to any responsible authority", the Court observed.

The Court noted that while Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India guarantees the right of all citizen to form association or union, the same does not indicate that it should be without any legal status or legal recognition, when it involves acquisition and accumulation of large quantity of wealth and assets under the guise of charity.

The Court further noted that since the subject of charities, charitable institutions, charitable and religious endowments and religious institutions has been listed as entry No.28 in the concurrent list of the 7th schedule to the Constitution, both the Central and State Legislatures are competent to legislate and regulate charitable organizations. Thus, the legal framework governing charitable organizations in India is quite complex due to the multiplicity of legislations.

It was in this light the Court placed a request before the Central Government to "explore the possibility of a uniform central legislation to regulate the functioning of charitable organization/ institution and religious institutions listed in entry No.28 of List III of VIIth schedule of Constitution of India", including the constitution of a centralized body to address the issues pertaining to the income, expenditure, acquisition and disposal of assets of such bodies.

Case Title: Cardinal Mar George Alencherry v. State of Kerala

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 550

Click Here To Read/Download The Order

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