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History of the CLS

The Christian Literature Society (C.L.S.) is purely a religious one. The Society as it stands now, is an amalgamation of several societies which made their appearance as publishers and distributors of Christian literature in India.

In 1818, the Madras Religious Tract Association was formed as an auxiliary of the London Religious Tract and Book Society imported tracts which were zealously distributed from the Association depository. The London Religious Tract Society itself originated in 1799 to promote the circulation of religious books and treatises in England and other countries.

In 1854, Dr. John Murdoch, Scottish Missionary, came to Madras from Ceylon and worked for the spreading of Gospel through printing and publishing. In 1858, he founded the Christian Vernacular Education Society amalgamating with it the South India School Book Society and the Madras Religious Tract and Books Society. In 1891, the name of the Association became the Christian Literature Society. Almost a century later in 1951, because of India attaining political independence, the Society (C.L.S.) a branch of the United Society for Christian Literature, London, became an autonomous body incorporated in India under the Indian Companies Act of 1913. From these early societies, C.L.S. has inherited the tradition of publishing and distribution of Christian literature its concern acting in concert with other religious publishing agencies such as Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Under the provisions of Section 26 of the Indian Companies Act 1913, (Central Act VII of 1913) read with the Notification of the Government of India in the late Department of Commerce No.88 (13) Tr. C.I. the Governor of Madras has issued an Order in G.O. M.S. No.3101 dated 4th July 1953 and also a license dated 3rd July 1953 to the C.L.S. according to which the following conditions were stipulated: that the income and property of the association whensoever derived, be applied solely towards the promotion of the objects of the association as set forth in the Memorandum and Articles of the Association and that no portion thereof be paid or transferred, directly or indirectly by way of profit to the persons who at any time are, or have been members of the said association or to any of them or to any person claiming through any of them.

The Governor of Madras in pursuance of the powers vested in him and in consideration of the provisions and subject to the conditions contained in the Memorandum and Articles of Association and subject also to the regulations made under the 26th Section aforesaid as in force for the time being by the license directed “The Christian Literature Society” to be registered with limited liability, without the addition of the word “limited” to its name.

The CLS has faithfully observed the conditions stipulated in the license issued under Section 26 of the Companies Act. As such, it had been treated as a Public religious institution under Section 25 of the Companies Act by filing all the statements and accounts every year to the Company Law Department without fail. As such, the CLS has been treated as a religious institution under Section 25 of the Companies Act ever since the date of incorporation till to-date.