Companies Act

Companies Act
  1. Companies 1.1 One-person company:

http://danstwothings.com/cowboys-and-sailors The 2013 Act introduces a new type of entity to the existing list i.e. apart from forming a public or private limited company, the 2013 Act enables the formation of a new entity a ‘one-person company’ (OPC). An OPC means a company with only one person as its member [section 3(1) of 2013 Act].

http://catholicmannight.com/omniscience/jesus-can-read-minds-yes-we-should-be-nervous 1.2. Private company:

The 2013 Act introduces a change in the definition for a private company, inter-alia, the new requirement increases the limit of the number of members from 50 to 200. [section 2(68) of 2013 Act].

1.3. Small company:

A small company has been defined as a company, other than a public company. (i) Paid-up share capital of which does not exceed 50 lakh INR or such higher amount as may be prescribed which shall not be more than five crore INR (ii) Turnover of which as per its last profit-and-loss account does not exceed two crore INR or such higher amount as may be prescribed which shall not be more than 20 crore INR: As set out in the 2013 Act, this section will not be applicable to the following: • A holding company or a subsidiary company • A company registered under section 8 • A company or body corporate governed by any special Act [section 2(85) of 2013 Act] 1.4. Dormant company: The 2013 Act states that a company can be classified as dormant when it is formed and registered under this 2013 Act for a future project or to hold an asset or intellectual property and has no significant accounting transaction. Such a company or an inactive one may apply to the ROC in such manner as may be prescribed for obtaining the status of a dormant company.[Section 455 of 2013 Act]

  1. Roles and responsibilities

2.1 Officer: The definition of officer has been extended to include promoters and key managerial personnel [section 2(59) of 2013 Act].

2.2 Key managerial personnel: The term ‘key managerial personnel’ has been defined in the 2013 Act and has been used in several sections, thus expanding the scope of persons covered by such sections [section 2(51) of 2013 Act].

2.3. Promoter:

The term ‘promoter’ has been defined in the following ways:• A person who has been named as such in a prospectus or is identified by the company in the annual return referred to in Section 92 of 2013 Act that deals with annual return; or • who has control over the affairs of the company, directly or indirectly whether as a shareholder, director or otherwise; or • in accordance with whose advice, directions or instructions the Board of Directors of the company is accustomed to act. The proviso to this section states that sub-section (c) would not apply to a person who is acting merely in a professional capacity. [section 2(69) of 2013 Act]

2.4: Independent Director: The term’ Independent Director’ has now been defined in the 2013 Act, along with several new requirements relating to their appointment, role and responsibilities. Further some of these requirements are not in line with the corresponding requirements under the equity listing agreement [section 2(47), 149(5) of 2013 Act].

 

  1. Investments

3.1 Subsidiary: The definition of subsidiary as included in the 2013 Act states that certain class or classes of holding company (as may be prescribed) shall not have layers of subsidiaries beyond such numbers as may be prescribed. With such a restrictive section, it appears that a holding company will no longer be able to hold subsidiaries beyond a specified number[section 2(87) of 2013 Act].

  1. Financial statements

4.1. Financial year: It has been defined as the period ending on the 31st day of March every year, and where it has been incorporated on or after the 1st day of January of a , the period ending on the 31st day of March of the following year, in respect whereof financial statement of the company or body corporate is made up. [section 2(41) of 2013 Act]. While there are certain exceptions included, this section mandates a uniform accounting year for all companies and may create significant implementation issues.

4.2. Consolidated financial statements: The 2013 Act now mandates consolidated financial statements (CFS) for any company having a subsidiary or an associate or a joint venture, to prepare and present consolidated financial statements in addition to standalone financial statements. 4.3. Conflicting definitions: There are several definitions in the 2013 Act divergent from those used in the notified accounting standards, such as a joint venture or an associate,, etc., which may lead to hardships in compliance.

 

  1. Audit and auditors

5.1 Mandatory auditor rotation and joint auditors: The 2013 Act now mandates the rotation of auditors after the specified time period. The 2013 Act also includes an enabling provision for joint audits.

5.2 Non-audit services: The 2013 Act now states that any services to be rendered by the auditor should be approved by the board of directors or the audit committee. Additionally, the auditor is also restricted from providing certain specific services.

5.3. Auditing standards: The Standards on Auditing have been accorded legal sanctity in the 2013 Act and would be subject to notification by the NFRA. Auditors are now mandatorily bound by the 2013 Act to ensure compliance with Standards on Auditing.

5.4 Cognisance to Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS): The 2013 Act, in several sections, has given cognisance to the Indian Accounting Standards, which are standards converged with International Financial Reporting Standards, in view of their becoming applicable in future. For example, the definition of a financial statement includes a ‘statement of changes in equity’ which would be required under Ind AS. [Section 2(40) of 2013 Act]

5.5. Secretarial audit for bigger companies: In respect of listed companies and other class of companies as may be prescribed, the 2013 Act provides for a mandatory requirement to have secretarial audit. The draft rules make it applicable to every public company with paid-up share capital > Rs. 100 crores*. As specified in the 2013 Act, such companies would be required to annex a secretarial audit report given by a Company Secretary in practice with its Board’s report. [Section 204 of 2013 Act]

5.6. Secretarial Standards: The 2013 Act requires every company to observe secretarial standards specified by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India with respect to general and board meetings [Section 118 (10) of 2013 Act], which were hitherto not given cognizance under the 1956 Act.

5.7. Internal Audit: The importance of internal audit has been well acknowledged in Companies (Auditor Report) Order, 2003 (the ‘Order’), pursuant to which auditor of a company is required to comment on the fact that the internal audit system of the company is commensurate with the nature and size of the company’s operations. However, the Order did not mandate that an internal audit should be conducted by the internal auditor of the company. The Order acknowledged that an internal audit can be conducted by an individual who is not in appointment by the company. The 2013 Act now moves a step forward and mandates the appointment of an internal auditor who shall either be a chartered accountant or a cost accountant, or such other professional as may be decided by the Board to conduct internal audit of the functions and activities of the company. The class or classes of companies which shall be required to mandatorily appoint an internal auditor as per the draft rules are as follows: *

  • Every listed company
  • Every public company having paid-up share capital of more than 10 crore INR
  • Every other public company which has any outstanding loans or borrowings from banks or public financial institutions more than 25 crore INR or which has accepted deposits of more than 25 crore INR at any point of time during the last financial year

5.8. Audit of items of cost: The central government may, by order, in respect of such class of companies engaged in the production of such goods or providing such services as may be prescribed, direct that particulars relating to the utilisation of material or labour or to other items of cost as may be prescribed shall also be included in the books of account kept by that class of companies. By virtue of this section of the 2013 Act, the cost audit would be mandated for certain companies. [section 148 of 2013 Act]. It is pertinent to note that similar requirements have recently been notified by the central government.

  1. Regulators

6.1. National Company Law Tribunal (Tribunal or NCLT): In accordance with the Supreme Court’s (SC) judgement, on 11 May 2010, on the composition and constitution of the Tribunal, modifications relating to qualification and experience, etc. of the members of the Tribunal has been made. Appeals from the Tribunal shall lie with the NCLT. Chapter XXVII of the 2013 Act consisting of section 407 to 434 deals with NCLT and appellate Tribunal.

6.2. National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA): The 2013 Act requires the constitution of NFRA, which has been bestowed with significant powers not only in issuing the authoritative pronouncements, but also in regulating the audit profession.

6.3. Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO): The 2013 Act has bestowed legal status to SFIO.

 

  1. Mergers and acquisitions

The 2013 Act has streamlined as well as introduced concepts such as reverse mergers (merger of foreign companies with Indian companies) and squeeze-out provisions, which are significant. The 2013 Act has also introduced the requirement for valuations in several cases, including mergers and acquisitions, by registered valuers.

  1. Corporate social responsibility The 2013 Act makes an effort to introduce the culture of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Indian corporates by requiring companies to formulate a corporate social responsibility policy and at least incur a given minimum expenditure on social activities.
  2. Class action suits The 2013 Act introduces a new concept of class action suits which can be initiated by shareholders against the company and auditors. 10. Prohibition of association or partnership of persons exceeding certain number The 2013 Act puts a restriction on the number of partners that can be admitted to a partnership at 100. To be specific, the 2013 Act states that no association or partnership consisting of more than the given number of persons as may be prescribed shall be formed for the purpose of carrying on any business that has for its object the acquisition of gain by the association or partnership or by the individual members thereof, unless it is registered as a company under this 1956 Act or is formed under any other law for the time being in force: As an exception, the aforesaid restriction would not apply to the following:
  • A Hindu undivided family carrying on any business
  • An association or partnership, if it is formed by professionals who are governed by special acts like the Chartered Accountants Act, etc.[section 464 of 2013 Act]
  1. Power to remove difficulties The central government will have the power to exempt or modify provisions of the 2013 Act for a class or classes of companies in public interest. Relevant notification shall be required to be laid in draft form in Parliament for a period of 30 days. The 2013 Act further states no such order shall be made after the expiry of a period of five years from the date of commencement of section 1 of the 2013 Act [section 470 of 2013 Act].
  2. Insider trading and prohibition on forward dealings The 2013 Act for the first time defines ‘insider trading and price-sensitive information and prohibits any person including the director or key managerial person from entering into insider trading [section 195 of 2013 Act]. Further, the Act also prohibits directors and key managerial personnel from forward dealings in the company or its holding, subsidiary or associate company [section 194 of 2013 Act].

 

The 2013 Act introduces a new form of entity ‘one-person company’ and incorporates certain new provisions in respect of memorandum and articles of association. For instance, the concept of including entrenchment provisions in the articles of association has been introduced.

Incorporation of a company

  1. One-person company The 2013 Act introduces a new type of entity to the existing list i.e. apart from forming a public or private limited company, the 2013 Act enables the formation of a new entity ‘one-person company’ (OPC). An OPC means a company with only one person as its member [section 3(1) of 2013 Act].The draft rules state that only a natural person who is an Indian citizen and resident in India can incorporate an OPC or be a nominee for the sole member of an OPC. *
  2. Memorandum of association Content: The 2013 Act specifies the mandatory content for the memorandum of association which is similar to the existing provisions of the 1956 Act and refers inter-alia to the following:
  • Name of the company with last word as limited or private limited as the case may be
  • State in which registered office of the company will be situated
  • Liability of the members of the company However, as against the existing requirement of the 1956 Act, the 2013 Act does not require the objects clause in the memorandum to be classified as the following: (i) The main object of the company (ii) Objects incidental or ancillary to the attainment of the main object (iii) Other objects of the company [section 4(1) of 2013 Act] The basic purpose in the 1956 Act for such a classification as set out in section 149 of the 1956 Act, is to restrict a company from commencing any business to pursue ‘other objects of the company’ not incidental or ancillary

to the main objects except on satisfaction of certain requirements as prescribed in the 1956 Act like passing a special resolution, filing of declaration with the ROC to the effect of resolution. Reservation of name: The 2013 Act incorporates the procedural aspects for applying for the availability of a name for a new company Incorporation of a company

  1. One-person company The 2013 Act introduces a new type of entity to the existing list i.e. apart from forming a public or private limited company, the 2013 Act enables the formation of a new entity ‘one-person company’ (OPC). An OPC means a company with only one person as its member [section 3(1) of 2013 Act].The draft rules state that only a natural person who is an Indian citizen and resident in India can incorporate an OPC or be a nominee for the sole member of an OPC. *
  2. Memorandum of association Content: The 2013 Act specifies the mandatory content for the memorandum of association which is similar to the existing provisions of the 1956 Act and refers inter-alia to the following:
  • Name of the company with last word as limited or private limited as the case may be
  • State in which registered office of the company will be situated
  • Liability of the members of the company However, as against the existing requirement of the 1956 Act, the 2013 Act does not require the objects clause in the memorandum to be classified as the following: (i) The main object of the company (ii) Objects incidental or ancillary to the attainment of the main object (iii) Other objects of the company [section 4(1) of 2013 Act] The basic purpose in the 1956 Act for such a classification as set out in section 149 of the 1956 Act, is to restrict a company from commencing any business to pursue ‘other objects of the company’ not incidental or ancillary to the main objects except on satisfaction of certain requirements as prescribed in the 1956 Act like passing a special resolution, filing of declaration with the ROC to the effect of resolution. Reservation of name:
  1. Articles of association

The 2013 Act introduces the entrenchment provisions in respect of the articles of association of a company. An entrenchment provision enables a company to follow a more restrictive procedure than passing a special resolution for altering a specific clause of articles of association. A private company can include entrenchment provisions only if agreed by all its members or, in case of a public company, if a special resolution is passed[section 5 of 2013 Act].

  1. Incorporation of company

The 2013 Act mandates inclusion of declaration to the effect that all provisions of the 1956 Act have been complied with, which is in line with the existing requirement of 1956 Act. Additionally, an affidavit from the subscribers to the memorandum and from the first directors has to be filed with the ROC, to the effect that they are not convicted of any offence in connection with promoting, forming or managing a company or have not been found guilty of any fraud or misfeasance, etc., under the 2013 Act during the last five years along with the complete details of name, address of the company, particulars of every subscriber and the persons named as first directors. The 2013 Act further prescribes that if a person furnishes false information, he or she, along with the company will be subject to penal provisions as applicable in respect of fraud i.e. section 447 of 2013 Act [section 7(4) of 2013 Act; Also refer the chapter on other areas]

 

 

  1. Formation of a company with charitable objects

An OPC with charitable objects may be incorporated in accordance with the provisions of the 2013 Act. New objects like environment protection, education, research, social welfare etc., have been added to the existing object for which a charitable company could be incorporated. As against the existing provisions under which a company’s licence could be revoked, the 2013 Act provides that the licence can be revoked not only where the company contravenes any of the requirements of the section but also where the affairs of the company are conducted fraudulently or in a manner violative of the objects of the company or prejudicial to public interest. The 2013 Act thus provides for more stringent provisions for companies incorporated with charitable objects[section 8 of 2013 Act].

 

  1. Commencement of business, etc

The existing provisions of the 1956 Act as set out in section 149 which provide for requirement with respect to the commencement of business for public companies that have a share capital would now be applicable to all companies. The 2013 Act empowers the ROC to initiate action for removal of the name of a company in case the company’s directors have not filed the declaration related to the payment of the value of shares agreed to be taken by the subscribers to the memorandum and that the paid-up share capital of the company is not less than the prescribed limits as per the 2013 Act, within 180 days of its incorporation and if the ROC has reasonable cause to believe that the company is not carrying on business or operations [section 11 of 2013 Act].

  1. Registered office of company

Where a company has changed its name in the last two years, the company is required to paint, affix or print its former names along with the new name of the company on business letters, bill heads, etc. However, the 2013 Act is silent on the time limit for which the former name needs to be kept [section 12 of 2013 Act].

  1. Alteration of memorandum

The 2013 Act imposes additional restriction on the alteration of the object clause of the memorandum for a company which had raised money from the public for one or more objects mentioned in the prospectus and has any unutilised money. The 2013 Act specifies that along with obtaining an approval by way of a special resolution, a company would be required to ensure following if it intends to alter its object clause:

  • Publishing the notice of the aforesaid resolution stating the justification of variation in two newspapers
  • Exit option can be given to dissenting shareholders by the promoters and shareholders having control in accordance with the regulations to be specified by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) [section 13 of 2013 Act].
  1. Subsidiary company not to hold shares in its holding company The existing provision of section 42 of the 1956 Act which prohibits a subsidiary company to hold shares in its holding company continues to get acknowledged in the 2013 Act. Thus, the earlier concern that if a subsidiary is a body corporate, it may hold shares in another body corporate which is the subsidiary’s holding company continues to apply[section 19 of 2013 Act]. Prospectus and public offer The 2013 Act has introduced a new section [section 23] to explicitly provide the ways in which a public company or private company may issue securities. This section explains that a public company may issue securities in any of the following manners:
  • To public through prospectus
  • Through private placement
  • Through rights issue or a bonus issue. For private companies, this section provides that it may issue securities through private placement, by way of rights issue or bonus issue. Section 23 also provides that compliance with provisions of part I of chapter III is required for the issue of securities to public through prospectus. For private placement compliance, with the provisions of part II of chapter III are required. The 2013 Act also introduces certain changes with respect to prospectus and public offers aimed at enhancing disclosure requirements as well as streamlining the process of issuance of securities. 1. Issue of prospectus Currently, the matters and reports to be included in the prospectus are specified in parts I and II of Schedule II of the 1956 Act. In the 2013 Act, the information to be included in the prospectus is specified in section 26 of 2013 Act. The 2013 Act mandates certain additional disclosures:
  • Any litigation or legal action pending or taken by a government department or a statutory body during the last five years immediately preceding the year of the issue of prospectus against the promoter of the company.
  • Sources of promoter’s contribution The 2013 Act has also relaxed the disclosure requirements in some areas. Examples of certain disclosures not included in the 2013 Act are as follows. Particulars regarding the company and other listed companies under the same management, which made any capital issues during the last three years – Export possibilities and export obligations – Details regarding collaboration The 2013 Act states that the report by the auditors on the assets and liabilities of business shall not be earlier than 180 days before the issue of the prospectus [section 26 (1) (b)(iii) of 2013 Act]. The 1956 Act currently requires that the report will not be earlier than 120 days before the issue of the prospectus.
  1. Variation in terms of contract or objects The 2013 Act states that a special resolution is required to vary the terms of a contract referred to in the prospectus or objects for which the prospectus was issued [section 27 (1) of 2013 Act]. The 1956 Act currently requires approval in a general meeting by way of an ordinary resolution. The 2013 Act also requires that dissenting shareholders shall be given an exit offer by promoters or controlling shareholders [section 27 (2) of 2013 Act].
  2. Offer of sale of shares by certain members of the company The 2013 Act includes a new section under which members of a company, in consultation with the board of directors, may offer a part of their holding of shares to the public. The document by which the offer of sale to the public is made will be treated as the prospectus issued by the company. The members shall reimburse the company all expenses incurred by it [section 28 of 2013 Act].
  3. Shelf prospectus The 2013 Act extends the facility of shelf prospectus by enabling SEBI to prescribe the classes of companies that may file a shelf prospectus. The 1956 Act currently limits the facility of shelf prospectus to public financial institutions, public sector banks or scheduled banks [section 31 (1) of 2013 Act].
  4. Global depository receipts (GDRs) The 2013 Act includes a new section to enable the issue of depository receipts in any foreign country subject to prescribed conditions [section 41 of 2013 Act]. Currently, the provisions of section 81 of the 1956 Act relating to further issue of shares are being used in conjunction with the requirements mandated by SEBI for the issuance of depository receipts. In several aspects across the 2013 Act, it appears that the 2013 Act supplements the powers of SEBI by incorporating requirements already mandated by SEBI.
  5. Private placement

The 2013 Act requires that certain specified conditions are complied with in order to make an offer or invitation of offer by way of private placement or through the issue of a prospectus.

  • The offer of securities or invitation to subscribe securities in a financial year shall be made to such number of persons not exceeding 50 or such higher number as may be prescribed {excluding qualified institutional buyers, and employees of the company being offered securities under a scheme of employees stock option in a financial year and on such conditions (including the form and manner of private placement) as may be prescribed}. This provision of the 2013 Act is in line with the existing provision of the 1956 Act.
  • The allotments with respect to any earlier offer or invitation may have been completed.
  • All the money payable towards the subscription of securities shall be paid through cheque, demand draft or any other banking channels but not by cash.
  • The offers shall be made only to such persons whose names are recorded by the company prior to the invitation to subscribe, and that such persons shall receive the offer by name.
  • The company offering securities shall not release any advertisements or utilise any media, marketing or distribution channels or agents to inform the public at large about such an offer [section 42 of 2013 Act].

 

Share capital and debentures

The chapter on share capital and debentures introduces some key changes in the 2013 Act. To illustrate, the 2013 Act does not give any cognisance to the existing requirement of section 90 of the 1956 Act that provided some saving grace to private companies. Therefore, the applicability of following sections of the 2013 Act is no longer restricted to public companies and private companies which are subsidiaries of a public company and are now applicable to private companies also.

  • Two kinds of shares capital
  • New issue of shares capital to be only of two kinds
  • Voting rights
  1. Voting rights
    The provisions of 2013 Act regarding voting rights are similar to the existing section 87 of the 1956 Act. The only change noted in the 2013 Act is the removal of distinction provided by the 1956 Act with respect to the entitlement to vote in case the company fails to pay dividend to its cumulative and non-cumulative preference share holders [section 47 of 2013 Act] The provisions regarding private placement and additional disclosures in prospectus will also help to strengthen the capital markets. The 2013 Act proposes to re-instate the existing concept of shares with differential voting rights. Pursuant to this section the company may face hardship with regards to computation of proportionate voting rights.
  2. Variation of shareholder’s rights Similar to the other provisions of the 1956 Act, the 2013 Act acknowledges the requirements of section 106 of the 1956 Act with an additional requirement in respect of those classes of share holders whose rights are affected pursuant to any variation. The proviso to section 48(1) of 2013 Act states that if the variation by one class of shareholders affects the rights of any other class of shareholders, the consent of three-fourths of such other class of shareholders shall also be obtained and the provisions of this section shall apply to such variation.
  3. Application of premiums received on issue of shares The 2013 Act lays down a similar requirement in section 52 as that of the section 78 of the 1956 Act in respect of application of premiums received on issue of shares; however, the section of 2013 Act has a non-obstante provision in respect of certain class of companies which would be prescribed at a later date. The 2013 Act states that these classes of companies would not be able to apply the securities premium towards the below specified purposes, unless the financial statements are in compliance with the accounting standards issued under section 133 of 2013 Act:
  • Paying up unissued equity shares of the company as fully paid bonus shares
  • Writing off the expenses of or the commission paid or discount allowed on any issue of equity shares of the company
  • Purchase of its own shares or other securities

The 2013 Act restricts the application of securities premium for a certain class of companies if they fail to comply with the accounting standards. The 2013 Act continues to state that securities premium amount can be utilised for purpose of writing off preliminary expenses. However, in view of the requirements of accounting standard 26, intangible asset, the requirement of this sub-section appears to be superfluous.

  1. Prohibition on issue of shares at a discount Companies would no longer be permitted to issue shares at a discount. The only shares that could be issued at a discount are sweat equity wherein shares are issued to employees in lieu of their services[section 53 and Section 54 of 2013 Act]. Further, explanations I and II to the existing section 79A of the 1956 Act that prescribe the provisions in respect of sweat equity have not been included in the 2013 Act. Explanation I defined company for the purpose of this section and explanation II defined sweat equity.

 

  1. Issue and redemption of preference shares The existing requirement of sections 80 and 80A of the 1956 Act with respect to the issue and redemption of preference shares continues to be acknowledged by the 2013 Act. The 2013 Act reiterates the existing requirement that a company cannot issue preference shares with a redemption date of beyond 20 years. However, it gives an exemption for cases where preference shares have been issued in respect of infrastructure projects. Infrastructure projects have been defined in Schedule VI of the 2013 Act and these shares would be subject to redemption at such percentage as prescribed on an annual basis at the option of such preference shareholders. Further, the 2013 Act adds another administrative requirement of obtaining special resolution with respect to the preference shares which could not be redeemed by a company. The 2013 Act states that where a company is not in a position to redeem any preference shares or to pay dividend, if any, on such shares in accordance with the terms of issue, it may, with the consent of the holders of three-fourths in value of such preference shares and with the approval of the Tribunal issue further redeemable preference shares equal to the amount due, including the dividend thereon, with respect to the unredeemed preference shares. On the issue of such further redeemable preference shares, the unredeemed preference shares shall be deemed to have been redeemed. The 2013 Act does not envisage any penalty in respect of non-compliance with the provision of this section, as was prescribed in subsection (6) and (3) of section 80 and 80A of the 1956 Act respectively [section 55 of 2013 Act].
  2. Refusal of registration and appeal against registration

The provision relating to refusal of registration of transfer or transmission of securities by private and public companies has been separately clarified in the 2013 Act. The private and public companies are required to send notice of refusal within 30 days of the receipt of instrument of transfer, and aggrieved party may appeal to the Tribunal against the refusal within the specified number of days [section 58(2) of 2013 Act].

  1. Further issue of share capital

The existing requirement of section 81 of the 1956 Act in regard to further issue of capital would no longer be restricted to public companies and would be applicable to private companies also, since sub-section 3 of section 81 of the 1956 Act has not been acknowledged in the 2013 Act. Further, the 2013 Act provides that a rights issue can also be made to the employees of the company who are under a scheme of employees’ stock option, subject to a special resolution and subject to conditions as prescribed. Further, the price of such shares should be determined using the valuation report of a registered valuer, which would be subject to conditions as prescribed [section 62 of 2013 Act].

  1. Issue of bonus shares

The existing 1956 Act does not have any specific provision dealing with issue of bonus shares although it has referred to the concept of bonus shares at many places. The 2013 Act includes a new section that provides for issue of fully paid-up bonus shares out of its free reserves or the securities premium account or the capital redemption reserve account, subject to the compliance with certain conditions such as authorisation by the articles, approval in the general meeting and so on [section 63 of 2013 Act].

  1. Unlimited company to provide for reserve share capital on conversion into limited company

This section corresponds to section 32 of the 1956 Act and seeks to provide that an unlimited company having a share capital may be re-registered as a limited company by increasing the nominal amount of each share, subject to the condition that no part of the increased capital shall be capable of being called up, except in the event and for the purposes of the company being wound up. The 2013 Act further provides that a specified portion of its uncalled share capital shall not be capable of being called up except in the event and for the purposes of the company being wound up[section 65 of 2013 Act].

  1. Reduction of share capital

The 2013 Act gives cognisance to one of the amendments made in the listing agreement by SEBI. A new clause 24(i) was inserted to the listing agreement which provided that a scheme of amalgamation or merger or reconstruction, should comply with the requirements of section 211(3C) of the 1956 Act. A similar requirement has been introduced in section 66 of 2013 Act, which states that no an application for reduction of share capital shall be sanctioned by the Tribunal unless the accounting treatment, proposed by the company for such a reduction is in conformity with the accounting standards specified in section 133 or any other provision of the 2013 Act and a certificate to that effect by the company’s auditor has been filed with the Tribunal. Further, the 2013 Act clarifies that no such reduction shall be made if the company is in arrears in repayment of any deposits accepted by it, either before or after the commencement of the 2013 Act, or the interest payable thereon.

  1. Power of the company to purchase its own securities

The existing provision of section 77A of the 1956 Act has been acknowledged by the 2013 Act. The only difference is that the option available to company for a buy-back from odd lots is no longer available [section 68]. The 2013 Act provides flexibility in management and administration by recognising the electronic mode for notices and voting, which is in line with the MCA’s efforts to give cognisance to use of electronic media as evident from a number of green initiatives’ introduced recently, maintenance of registers and returns at a place other than the registered office.

 

MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION

The 2013 Act also intends to improve corporate governance by requiring disclosure of nature of concern or interest of every director, manager, any other key managerial personnel and relatives of such a director, manager or any other key managerial personnel and reduction in threshold of disclosure from 20% to 2%. The term ‘key managerial personnel’ has now been defined in the 2013 Act and means the chief executive officer, managing director, manager, company secretary, whole-time director, chief financial officer and any such other officer as may be prescribed.

 

  1. Annual return

The 2013 Act states that requirement of certification by a company secretary in practice of annual return will be extended to companies having paid up capital of five crore INR or more and turnover of 25 crore INR or more* (section 92(2) of 2013 Act and the 1956 Act requires certification only for listed companies). The information that needs to be included in the annual return has been increased. The additional information required, includes particulars of holding, subsidiary and associate companies, remuneration of directors and key managerial personnel, penalty or punishment imposed on the company, its directors or officers [section 92(1) of 2013 Act].

  1. Place of keeping registers and returns

The 2013 Act allows registers of members, debenture-holders, any other security holders or copies of return, to be kept at any other place in India in which more than one-tenth of members reside [section 94(1) of 2013 Act]. The flexibility in the 1956 Act is limited to a place within the city, town or village in which the registered office is situated.

  1. General meetings

The 2013 Act states that the first annual general meeting should be held within nine months from the date of closing of the first financial year of the company [section 96(1) of 2013 Act], whereas the 1956 Act requires the first annual general meeting to be held within 18 months from the date of incorporation. Currently, the 1956 Act does not define business hours, which the 2013 Act now defines as between 9 am and 6 pm. The 2013 Act states that annual general meeting cannot be held on a national holiday whereas the annual general meeting cannot be held on a public holiday as per the existing provisions of section 166(2) of the 1956 Act [section 96(2) of 2013 Act]. In order to call an annual general meeting at shorter notice, the 2013 Act requires consent of 95% of the members as against the current requirement in the 1956 Act which requires consent of all the members [section 101(1) of 2013 Act]. The 2013 Act states that besides director and manager, the nature of concern or interest of every director, manager, any other key managerial personnel and relatives of such director, manager or any other key managerial personnel in each item of special business will also need to be mentioned in the notice of the meeting [section 102 (1) of 2013 Act]. Also, the threshold of disclosure of share holding interest in the company to which the business relates of every promoter, director, manager and key managerial personnel has been reduced from 20% to 2% [section 102 (2) of 2013 Act]. The 2013 Act states that in case of a public company, the quorum will depend on number of members as on the date of meeting. The required quorum is as follows:

  • Five members if number of members is not more than one thousand
  • Fifteen members if number of members is more than one thousand but up to five thousand
  • Thirty members if number of members is more than five thousand [section 103 (1) of 2013 Act]

A limit has been introduced on the number of members which a proxy can represent. The 2013 Act has introduced a dual limit in terms of number of members, which is prescribed as 50 members and also sets a limit in terms of number of shares holding in the aggregate not more than 10 % of the total share capital of the company carrying voting rights* [section 105 (1) of 2013 Act]. Further, it is relevant to note that private companies cannot impose restrictions on voting rights of members other than due to unpaid calls or sums or lien [section 106 (1) of 2013 Act].

Listed companies will be required to file with the ROC a report in the manner prescribed in the rules on each annual general meeting including a confirmation that the meeting was convened, held and conducted as per the provisions of the 2013 Act and the relevant rules [section 121 of 2013 Act].

  1. Other matters Listed companies will be required to file a return with the ROC with respect to the change in the number of shares held by promoters and top ten shareholders within 15 days of such a change[section 93 of 2013 Act].

This requirement again demonstrates the effort made towards synchronising the requirements under the 2013 Act and the requirements under SEBI. Additionally, on an annual basis, companies are also currently required to make the disclosures with respect to top shareholders under the Revised Schedule VI the 1956 Act. The 2013 Act requires every company to observe secretarial standards specified by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India with respect to general and board meetings [section 118 (10) of 2013 Act], which were hitherto not given cognisance under the 1956 Act. Additionally, it is also pertinent to note that these standards do not have a mandatory status for the practicing company secretaries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIRECTORS

  1. Woman director

The category of companies which need to comply with the requirement of having at least of one woman director are as follows: * [section 149(1) of 2013 Act]

(i) Every listed company, within one year from the commencement of second proviso to sub-section (1) of section 149

(ii) Every other public company that has paid–up share capital of one hundred crore rupees or more, or a turnover of three hundred crore rupees or more within three years from the commencement of second proviso to sub-section (1) of section 149 While this new requirement will go a long way in encouraging gender diversity, it has already created quite a stir in the manner in which companies will ensure compliance.

  1. Number of directorship

The 2013 Act increases the limit for number of directorships that can be held by an individual from 12 to 15 [section 149(1) of 2013 Act].3. One director to be resident in India A new requirement with respect to directors is that at least one director to have stayed in India for at least 182 days in the previous calendar year [section 149(3) of 2013 Act]. This requirement appears to be a departure from the focus given in the 2013 Act towards use of electronic mode such as use of video conferences for meetings and electronic voting. With the increasing use of electronic media, the need, for a director to be resident in India for a minimum amount of time, becomes redundant.

  1. Independent directors

One of the significant aspects of the 2013 Act is the effort made towards incorporating some of the salient requirements mandated by the SEBI in clause 49 of the listing agreement in the 2013 Act itself. To this effect, the 2013 Act requires every listed public company to have at least one-third of the total number of directors as independent directors. Further, the central government in the draft rules has prescribed the minimum number of independent directors in case of the following classes of public companies* [section 149(4) of 2013 Act].

(i) Public companies having paid up share capital of 100 crore INR or more; or

(ii) Public companies having turnover of 300 crore INR or more

(iii) Public companies which have, in aggregate, outstanding loans or borrowings or debentures or deposits, exceeding 200 crore INR The 2013 Act also states that companies will have a period of one year to ensure compliance with the 2013 Act and the Rules that are framed.

4.1 Conflicting requirements

While there have been attempts to harmonise the requirements of SEBI and the 2013 Act was made, there are several aspects relating to independent directors where the requirements of the 2013 Act differ from that of clause 49 of the equity listing agreement. The requirements of the 2013 Act and the manner in which they differ from those under the clause 49 of the equity listing agreement include the definition itself. The other main differences are as follows:

  • Clause 49 does not require the board to exercise its judgment and opine on whether the independent director is a person of integrity or has relevant expertise or experience. This requirement poses difficultly in terms of the manner in which integrity of an individual can be assessed by the board.
  • Clause 49 does not require examination of the independence of the relatives of independent directors. Extending the disqualification of the independent directors to consider the pecuniary relationship of the relatives would pose unnecessary hardship for the independent directors.
  • The qualification of the independent director has been left to be specified later.
  • The 2013 Act brings the constitution of the board in India at par with other international capital markets i.e., by mandating at least one-third of the board to be independent directors in case of listed companies. Whereas, the SEBI requirements are where the chairman of the board is a non-executive director, at least one-third of the board should comprise of independent directors and where the non-executive chairman is a promoter of the company or is related to any promoter or person occupying management positions at the board level or at one level below the board, at least one-half of the board of the company shall consist of independent directors.

 

The 2013 Act limits the tenure of office of an independent director to a maximum of two tenures of five consecutive years, with a cooling-off period of three years between the two tenures. During the cooling-off period of three years, should not be appointed in or be associated with the company in any other capacity, either directly or indirectly [proviso to section 149(11) of 2013 Act].

It is also relevant to note that the MCA had released the corporate governance voluntary guidelines in 2009, which permitted three tenures (with other conditions similar to those discussed above) for an independent director while as per the clause 49 of the equity listing agreement, an independent director cannot serve for more than nine consecutive years.

Stock options: As per the 2013 Act, an independent director will not be eligible to get stock options but may get payment of fees and profit linked commission subject to limits specified or to be specified in the rules [section 149 (9) of 2013 Act]. This again, is in contradiction with SEBI’s requirements, whereby for the purpose of granting stock options, the term employee includes independent directors also.

4.2 Databank of independent directors

The 2013 Act makes the appointment process of the independent directors, independent of the company’s management by constituting a panel or a data bank to be maintained by the MCA, out of which companies may choose their independent directors. The proposal has its origins in the report of the 21st Standing Committee on finance, wherein it was acknowledged that preparation of a databank of independent directors would vest with a regulatory body that may comprise of representatives of MCA, SEBI, Reserve Bank of India, professional institutions, Chambers of Commerce and Industry etc [section 150 of 2013 Act]. A drawback of constituting a panel of independent directors is that it may discourage people from registering with the panel and in that sense limit the options available to a company for appointment of independent directors.

4.3 Code for independent director The 2013 Act includes Schedule IV ‘Code for Independent Directors’ (Code) which broadly prescribes the following for independent directors:

 

 

  • Professional conduct
  • Role and functions
  • Duties
  • Manner of appointment
  • Reappointment
  • Resignation or removal
  • Holding separate meetings
  • Evaluation mechanism The code appears to be mandatory which would lead to some of the following concerns:
  • The code states that an independent director shall uphold ethical standards of integrity and probity, however what would constitute ethical behaviour is not defined and is open to interpretation.
  • The code does not give any cognisance to the need for training for the independent directors.
  • The code refers to appointment of independent directors by the board after evaluating certain attributes. The concern that remains unaddressed is the manner in which companies need to carry out an assessment of the attributes of an independent director as specified under ‘manner of appointment’ in the code from the databank maintained by the MCA.

4.4 Liability of independent directors

The 2013 Act makes an attempt to distinguish between the liability of an independent director and non-executive director from the rest of the board and has accordingly inserted a provision to provide immunity from any civil or criminal action against the independent directors. The intention and effort to limit liability of independent directors is demonstrated from the section 149(12) of the 2013 Act which inter-alia provides that liability for independent directors would be as under: “Only in respect of such acts of omission or commission by a company which had occurred with his knowledge, attributable through board processes, with his consent or connivance or where he had not acted diligently.”

The section seeks to provide immunity from civil or criminal action against independent directors in certain cases. Further, in accordance with the requirement of section 166 (2) of 2013 Act, whole of the board is required to act in good faith in order to promote the objects of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole, and in the best interest of the company, its employees, the shareholders, the community and for the protection of the environment. By virtue of this section the duty of independent directors actually goes beyond its normal definition and is not restricted to executive directors only. It is amply clear that independent directors have little or no defence and their obligations continues to remain a debatable topic since they would still be treated equivalent to the other directors by holding them responsible for decisions made through board processes.

  1. Appointment of an additional director

It is pertinent to note that, in order to discourage inappropriate practices, the 2013 Act states that any person who fails to get elected as a director in the general meeting can no longer be appointed as an additional director by the board of directors [section 161 of 2013 Act].

  1. Additional compliance requirements for private companies

There are certain increased compliance requirements mandated for private companies which, till now, were mandated only for public companies and private companies which are subsidiaries of public companies. These include the following:

  • Appointment of director to be voted individually
  • Option to adopt principle of proportional representation for appointment of directors
  • Ineligibility on account of non-compliance with section 274(1)) (g) now extended for appointment or reappointment as a director in a private limited company also. Meetings of the board and its powers There have been significant inroads made by the MCA in the recent past with respect to giving cognisance to use of electronic media in day-to-day operations of corporates. The 2013 Act takes this further by allowing use of electronic mode for sending notice of meetings [section 173(3) of 2013 Act], passing of resolution by circulation [section 175 of 2013 Act] and other areas. Some of the other significant changes in relation to the board and its functioning include:
  1. Audit committee The requirements relating to audit committees was first introduced by the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2000. Audit committees are a measure of ensuring self discipline, constituted with the object to strengthen and oversee management in public companies and to ensure that the board of directors discharge their functions effectively. The 2013 Act acknowledges the importance of an audit committee and entrusts it with additional roles and responsibilities [section 177 of 2013 Act]. However, the fact that the 2013 Act is not entirely in harmony with the requirements of clause 49 of the equity listing agreement, cannot be ignored. While most of the requirements including establishment of a ‘vigil mechanism’ for directors and employees to report genuine concerns, that are similar to the requirements of clause49 of the equity listing agreement have been incorporated in the 2013 Act, the differences are as follows:
  • As per the 2013 Act, the audit committee should have majority of independent directors.
  • Chairman of the audit committee need not be an independent director.
  • A majority of the members of the audit committee should be financially literate, i,e. should have the ability to read and understand the financial statements.
  • Every listed company and the following class (es) of companies as prescribed in the draft rules should establish a vigil mechanism for directors and employees to report genuine concerns such as :* – Companies which accept deposits from the public – Companies which have borrowed money from banks and public financial institutions in excess of fifty crore rupees
  1. Nomination and remuneration committee and stakeholders relationship committee The 2013 Act includes this new section requiring constituting the nomination and remuneration committee by every listed company and the following classes of companies as prescribed in the draft rules:* (A) Every listed company (B) Every other public company that has a paid-up capital of 100 crore INR or more or which has, in aggregate, outstanding loans or borrowings or debentures or deposits exceeding 200 crore INR.

The Nomination and Remuneration Committee is required to formulate and recommend to the Board of Directors, the company’s policies, relating to the remuneration for the directors, key managerial personnel and other employees, criteria for determining qualifications, positive attributes and independence of a director [section 178(1) of 2013 Act]. Further, a board of a company that has more than 1000 shareholders, debenture-holders, deposit-holders and any other security holders at any time during a financial year is required to constitute a Stakeholders Relationship Committee [section 178(5) of 2013.

Further, a board of a company that has more than 1000 shareholders, debenture-holders, deposit-holders and any other security holders at any time during a financial year is required to constitute a Stakeholders Relationship Committee [section 178(5) of 2013 Act.

 

  1. Contributions to charitable funds and political parties

As per the 2013 Act the power of making contribution to ‘bona fide’ charitable and other funds is proposed to be available to the board subject to certain limits [section 181 of 2013 Act].As per the existing requirement of section 293 of the 1956 Act, such power could only be exercised in the general meeting in case of public companies and subsidiaries of public companies as per the 1956 Act. Further, the limits of contribution to political parties is proposed to be increased to 7.5% of the average net profits during the three immediately preceding financial years [section 182 of 2013 Act] from the existing limit of 5% under the 1956 Act.

  1. Disclosure of interest by director

The 2013 Act prescribes similar requirements with respect to the disclosure of interest by the director as contained in the existing section 299 of the 1956 Act. The only change that could be identified is where a contract or arrangement entered into by the company without disclosure of interest by director or with participation by a director who is concerned or interested in any way, directly or indirectly, in the contract or arrangement, shall be voidable at the option of the company [section 184 of 2013 Act].

  1. Loans and investments by a company

The 2013 Act states that companies can make investments only through two layers of investment companies subject to exceptions which includes company incorporated outside India [section 186 of 2013 Act]. There are no such restrictions which are currently imposed under the 1956 Act. Further, the exemption available from the provisions of section 372A of the 1956 Act to private companies as well as loans or investment given or made by a holding company to its subsidiary company are no longer available under the 2013 Act.

  1. Related party transactions Most of the provisions under Section 188 of 2013 Act are quite similar to the requirements under sections 297 and 314 of the 1956 Act. Some of key changes envisaged in the 2013 Act include the following:
  • Need for central government approval has been done away with.
  • The 2013 Act has widened the ambit of transactions such as leasing of property of any kind, appointment of any agent for purchase and sale of goods, material, services or property.
  • Cash at prevailing market price has now been substituted with ‘arm’s length transaction’ which has been defined in the section.
  • Transactions entered into with related parties now to be included in the board’s report along with justification for entering into such contracts and arrangements.
  • Penalty for contravention of the provisions of section 297 was covered in general provisions in the 1956 Act. However, this is now covered specifically in the section itself which now extends to imprisonment.
  • Central government may prescribe additional conditions. Appointment and remuneration of managerial personnel The 2013 Act brings significant changes to the existing requirement of the 1956 Act with respect to appointment and remuneration of managerial personnel. One of the major changes that could be identified is in respect of the applicability of these provisions. The provisions for appointment of managing director, whole time director or manager are no longer restricted to the public companies and the private companies which are subsidiaries of public companies and now applicable to all companies. The overall ceiling in respect of payment of managerial remuneration by a public company remains at 11% of the profit for the financial year computed in the manner laid down in the 2013 Act. 1. Appointment of managing director, whole time director or manager [section 196 of 2013 Act].
  • The re-appointment of a managerial person cannot be made earlier than one year before the expiry of the term instead of two years as per the existing provision of section 317 of the 1956 Act, however, the term for which managerial personnel can be appointed remains as five years.
  • The eligibility criteria for the age limit has been revised to 21 years as against the existing requirement of 25 years. Further, the 2013 Act lifts the upper bar for age limit and thus an individual above the age of 70 years can be appointed as key managerial personnel by passing a special resolution.
  • Provisions in respect of appointment of the managerial personnel has been specified in section 196 and Schedule V to the 2013 Act. Companies Act, 2013 23

 

  1. Overall maximum managerial remuneration and managerial remuneration in case of absence or inadequacy of profits [section 197 of 2013 Act].
  • As against the existing requirement of section 198 of the 1956 Act, which specifically provides that the provisions of managerial remuneration would be applicable to both public companies and private companies which are subsidiaries of public companies; the 2013 Act states that such provisions would be applicable only to public limited companies.
  • Listed companies have been mandated to disclose in their board report, the ratio of remuneration of each director to median employee’s remuneration and such other details which are quite extensive as proposed in the draft rules*.
  • The existing 1956 Act under section 309 provides that a managing director or a whole time director of a subsidiary company who is in receipt of commission from the holding company cannot receive any commission or remuneration from the subsidiary company. The said restriction has been removed by the 2013 Act, however, such receipt has to be disclosed in the Board’s report [section 197(14) of 2013 Act].
  • The provisions of existing Schedule XIII of the 1956 Act have been incorporated in Schedule V of the 2013 Act and the requirements have been structured around the same rules, with revised remuneration limits and certain additional requirements, for example, the managerial personnel should not have been convicted of an offence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
  • The 2013 Act has liberalised the administrative procedures by relaxing the requirement of obtaining the central government approval provided the company complies with certain requirements including seeking approval by way of special resolution for payment of managerial remuneration. Similar relaxation norms as envisaged in the 2013 Act had been incorporated in Schedule XIII of the 1956 Act by virtue of the recent circulars issued by MCA.
  • Definition of remuneration has undergone few changes in the 2013 Act. The 2013 Act in section 2(78), defines remuneration as any money or its equivalent given or passed to any person for services rendered by him and includes perquisites as defined under the incometax Act, 1961. The remuneration thus defined includes reimbursement of any direct taxes to managerial personnel. The 1956 Act defined remuneration under section 198 by way of an explanation and provided for the certain specific inclusions that would be construed as remuneration. Section 200 of the 1956 Act specifically prohibited tax free payments. The 2013 Act has indirectly incorporated the same requirement by clarifying that the term remuneration includes any reimbursement of direct taxes.
  • The 2013 Act clarifies that premium paid by a company for any insurance taken by a company on behalf of its managing director, whole time director, manager, chief executive officer, chief financial officer or company secretary for indemnifying any of them against any liability in respect of any negligence, default, misfeasance, breach of duty or breach of trust for which they may be guilty in relation to the company would not be treated as part of remuneration except for the cases where person is proved to be guilty. The provisions cited above are similar to that of the existing provisions of section 201 of the 1956 Act.
  1. Calculation of profits [section 198 of 2013 Act] The 2013 Act sets out in detail about the allowances and deductions that a company should include while computing the profits for the purpose of determining the managerial remuneration. To illustrate, the 2013 Act states that while computing its profits, credit should not be given for any change in the carrying amount of an asset or of a liability recognised in equity reserves including surplus in profit and loss account on measurement of the asset or the liability at fair value.
  2. Recovery of remuneration in certain cases [section 199 of 2013 Act] The 2013 Act contains stringent provisions in case the company is required to restate its financial statements pursuant to fraud or noncompliance with any requirement under the 2013 Act and the Rules made there under. As against the existing requirement of section 309 of the 1956 Act which only refers to the fact that excess remuneration paid to managerial personnel cannot be waived except with the previous approval of the central government, the 2013 Act moves a step forward and enables the company to recover the excess remuneration paid (including stock options) from any past or present managing director or whole time director or manager or chief executive officer who, during the period for which the financial statements have been restated, has acted in such capacity.
  3. Appointment of key managerial personnel [section 203] The 2013 Act provides for mandatory appointment of following whole time key managerial personnel for every listed company and every other company having a paid-up share capital of five crore INR or more*:

(i) Managing director, or chief executive officer or manager and in their absence, a whole-time director

(ii) Company secretary

(iii) Chief financial officer Further, the 2013 Act also states that an individual cannot be appointed or reappointed as the chairperson of the company, as well as the managing director or chief executive



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