UPDATE: on 30th August 2013: Companies Bill 2012 became the Companies Act, 2013 (Act 18 of 2013).
In my last two post, I wrote about “Oppression and Mismanagement” and “Class Action” under the Companies Bill 2012. Section 246 makes it necessary for me to discuss Sections 337 to 341 of the Bill. These sections are natural extension to provisions related to “Oppression and Management” and “Class Action” under Chapter XVI.
PENALTY FOR FRAUD BY OFFICERS (SECTION 337):
If any person, being at the time of the commission of the alleged offence an officer of a company,—
(a) has, by false pretences or by means of any other fraud, induced any person to give credit to the company; or
(b) with intent to defraud creditors of the company or any other person, has made or caused to be made any gift or transfer of, or charge on, or has caused or connived at the levying of any execution against, the property of the company; or
(c) with intent to defraud creditors of the company, has concealed or removed any part of the property of the company since the date of any unsatisfied judgment or order for payment of money obtained against the company or within two months before that date,
he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to three years and with fine which shall not be less than one lakh rupees but which may extend to three lakh rupees.
LIABILITY FOR PROPER ACCOUNT NOT KEPT (SECTION 338):
Where a company proper books of account were not kept by the company throughout the period of two years immediately preceding the commencement of the winding up, or the period between the incorporation of the company and the commencement of the winding up, whichever is shorter, every officer of the company who is in default shall, unless he shows that he acted honestly and that in the circumstances in which the business of the company was carried on, the default was excusable, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to three years and with fine which shall not be less than one lakh rupees but which may extend to three lakh rupees.
LIABILITY FOR FRAUDULENT CONDUCT OF BUSINESS (SECTION 339):
If, it appears that any business of the company has been carried on with intent to defraud creditors of the company or any other persons or for any fraudulent purpose, the Tribunal, on the application of the Official Liquidator, or the Company Liquidator or any creditor or contributory of the company, may, if it thinks it proper so to do, declare that any person, who is or has been a director, manager, or officer of the company or any persons who were knowingly parties to the carrying on of the business in the manner aforesaid shall be personally responsible, without any limitation of liability, for all or any of the debts or other liabilities of the company as the Tribunal may direct.
Where the Tribunal makes any such declaration, it may give such further directions as it thinks proper for the purpose of giving effect to that declaration and, in particular,—
(a) make provision for making the liability of any such person under the declaration a charge on any debt or obligation due from the company to him, or on any mortgage or charge or any interest in any mortgage or charge on any assets of the company held by or vested in him, or any person on his behalf, or any person claiming as assignee from or through the person liable or any person acting on his behalf;
(b) make such further order as may be necessary for the purpose of enforcing any charge imposed under this sub-section.
POWER OF TRIBUNAL TO ASSESS DAMAGES AGAINST DELINQUENT DIRECTORS, ETC. (SECTION 340):
If, it appears that any person who has taken part in the promotion or formation of the company, or any person, who is or has been a director, manager, Company Liquidator or officer of the company—
(a) has misapplied, or retained, or become liable or accountable for, any money or property of the company; or
(b) has been guilty of any misfeasance or breach of trust in relation to the company,
the Tribunal may, made within the period specified, inquire into the conduct of the person, director, manager, Company Liquidator or officer aforesaid, and order him to repay or restore the money or property or any part thereof respectively, with interest at such rate as the Tribunal considers just and proper, or to contribute such sum to the assets of the company by way of compensation in respect of the misapplication, retainer, misfeasance or breach of trust, as the Tribunal considers just and proper.
An application shall be made within five years from the date of the winding up order, or of the first appointment of the Company Liquidator in the winding up, or of the misapplication, retainer, misfeasance or breach of trust, as the case may be, whichever is longer.
LIABILITY UNDER SECTIONS 339 AND 340 TO EXTEND TO PARTNERS OR DIRECTORS IN FIRMS OR COMPANIES (SECTION 341):
Where a declaration under section 339 or an order under section 340 is made in respect of a firm or body corporate, the Tribunal shall also have power to make a declaration under section 339, or pass an order under section 340, as the case may be, in respect of any person who was at the relevant time a partner in that firm or a director of that body corporate.
Please note: this blog post is not a professional advice but general information about the subject covered here. I welcome your comments and feedback.