Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has directed the Charity Commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the nature and authenticity of documentary material provided by South India Assemblies of God Society to prove that it was registered under the relevant Act in 1951.
The Society had applied to the Charity Commissioner for a certified copy of its Registration Certificate and also for copies of Trust Deed, Constitution and Byelaws.
On December 5, 2011, the petitioner was informed, in response to a query under the RTI that an effort was being made to trace the record.
The Society had relied upon documentary material in these proceedings in support of its case that it was granted registration under the Societies` Registration Act, 1860.
As it did not get any response, it filed a petition in the HC seeking a direction to the authorities to reconstruct its records and issue a registration certificate.
Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice R D Dhanuka observed, "in our view, the claim of the petitioner that it was registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, in 1951 and seeking a reconstruction of the record, including the issuance of a copy of the Registration Certificate, would have to be addressed to the Charity Commissioner."
"The petitioner has relied upon documentary material. The nature and authenticity of the documentary material would have to be assessed by Charity Commissioner. This would require an enquiry purely into matters of fact and it should be undertaken by the Charity Commissioner," the Judges said in their order delivered recently.
The HC asked the Charity Commissioner to conduct an inquiry within a period of three months and arrive at a final decision in respect of the request of the petitioner.
The documentary material relied upon by the petitioner to support its claim consists of letters received by it from the authorities concerned in 1959, 1975 and 1979.
The Judges ruled that the petitioner would be at liberty to furnish to the Charity Commissioner, within a period of one month, all further material as it seeks to place reliance upon in support of its plea. The Commissioner shall hear the petitioner before orders are passed on the request for reconstruction, they said.
The documentary material relied upon by the petitioner to support its claim consists of a letter dated November 11, 1959 of the Assistant Registrar of Companies. The letter intimates the petitioner that Charity Commissioner has been appointed as a Registrar of Societies in place of Registrar of Companies.
The petitioner also relied upon a letter of November 1, 1975, of the Charity Commissioner to his (petitioner`s) secretary which adverts to the registration under the Act.
The other document cited is a letter dated November 22, 1979 from the office of the Charity Commissioner again adverting to Registration No 2701/1951-52.
An affidavit in reply was filed in these proceedings by Deputy Registrar of Companies stating that all the records had been forwarded to the Office of the Charity Commissioner and since the case pertains to an old registration (1951), prior to the commencement of the Companies Act, 1956, the old record/register is not traceable.