Charitable – Meaning of

Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Edition defines “charitable”, “charitable purpose”, “charitable corporation” and “Charitable trust” thus:

“charitable, adj. (1) Dedicated to a general purpose, usually for the benefit of needy people who cannot pay for the benefits received.”

“Charitable Purpose.—The purpose for which an organization must be formed so that it qualifies as a charitable organization under the Internal Revenue Code.—Also termed charitable use.”

“Charitable Corporation.—A non-profit corporation that is dedicated to benevolent purposes and thus entitled to special tax status under the Internal Revenue Code.—Also termed eleemosynary corporation.”

“Charitable Trust.—A trust created to benefit a specific charity, specified charities, or the general public rather than a private individual or entity. Charitable Trusts are often eligible for a favourable tax treatment. If the Trust’s terms do not specify a charity or a particular charitable purpose, a court may select a charity.—Also termed public trust; charitable use.”

In Webster’s New World Dictionary, the expressions “charitable” and “charity” are defined thus:

“Charitable.—1. Kind and generous in giving money or other help to those in need.

  1. of or for charity.
  2. Kindly in judging others; lenient.

Charity.—1. In Christianity, the love of God for man or of man for his fellow men. 2. An act of goodwill or affection. 3. The feeling of goodwill; benevolence. 4. The quality of being kind or lenient in judging others. 5. A giving of money or other help to those in need; benefaction. 6. An institution, organization, or fund for giving help to those in need.”

In Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales v. Attorney General, (1971) 3 WLR 853, it was observed that when a purpose has been proved to be of general public welfare or beneficial to the community, it will be held to be charitable unless there is some reason for holding that it is not within the spirit and intendment of the Preamble.

In Jones v. Williams, 27 ER 422, it was held thus: “Charity to be a gift to a general public use, which may extend to the poor as well as to the rich. It embraces all that is usually understood by the words “benevolence”, “Philanthropy” and “good will”. A gift to a home for the friendless is a gift to charity. Union of India v. Moolchand Khairati Ram Trust, (2018) 8 SCC 321.

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