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Public, charitable and religious trusts:

  • As regards the public trusts, there is no Central Act applicable in all the States . But various states such as Bihar , Madras, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa , etc , have enacted their own acts prescribing conditions and procedure for the administration of public trusts. These Acts are more or less similar in nature though there may be certain variations.
  • For instance, the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950 provides machinery of charity commissioners to regulate the administration of public religious and charitable trusts. It makes registration of all the public religious and charitable trusts including the religious trusts created under Hindu Muslim and Christian personal laws mandatory and prescribes certain norms for the maintenance and audit of budget, and accounts of such trusts and further empowers the charity commissioners to inspect and supervise the property belonging to a public trust and as well the proceedings of the trustees and books of accounts of such a trust.
  • That apart, the act also creates certain restrictions on the investment of public trust money and as well alienation of immovable property of such a trust.

Public supervision and regulation:

The working of the public trust and its trustees can be regulated and closely supervised by the state and/or the beneficiaries of such a trust. In the case of any alleged breach of a public trust or where the direction of the court is deemed necessary for the administration of such trust , either the Advocate Generalor two or more persons having an interest in the trust and having obtained the leave of the court can institute a suit to seek:

  1. removal of a trustee
  2. appointment of a new trustee
  3. for vesting any property in a trustee
  4. for directing a trustee who has been removed or a person who has ceased to be a trustee to deliver possession of any trust property in his possession to the person entitled to the possession of such property
  5. for directing accounts enquiries
  6. for seeking of declaring what proportion of the trust property or of the interest therein shall be allocated me any particular object of the trust.
  • In such a suit, the court may alter the original purpose of the trust and allow the property or income of such trust or any portion thereof to be applied to different purpose or in a different manner for a similar purpose , as nearly as possible according to the intentions of the author.
  • Such an alternation can be sought where either the original purpose of the trust is fulfilled or can not be carried out or where the original purpose of the trust provides a use for only part of the trust property or where the property of the trust can be used more effectively for another similar purpose .
  • The Court can also make alternation if the original purpose, in whole in part, has been adequately provided for by other means or has ceased to be charitable or has become useless or harmful to community or has ceased to provide a suitable and effective method of using the trust property as per the spirit of the trust.

Religious trusts:

The creation of religious charitable trusts is governed by the personal laws of the religion. The administration of these religious trusts can either be left to the trustees as per the dictates of the religious names or it can be regulated to a greater or lessee degree by statute such as the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950 discussed above.

In case of Hindus, the personal law provisions regulating the religious trusts have not been codified and are found dispersed in various religious books and epics.

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