Category Archives: Companies Act 2013

Post written on the provisions of the (Indian) Companies Act, 2013 and matter incidental thereto

CHALLENGES TO BE FACED BY NEW COUNCILS


My fellow members of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) may be going to a booth for voting while reading this post. Similarly, members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) just concluded their voting last week. These two elections are crucial for the future for these two eminent professions in India, which impact most on financial and non-financial reporting, disclosures and transparency in the working of Corporate India.  Admit or not, these two institutes are facing a crucial issue of survival.

National Financial Reporting Authority – NFRA is already here to oversee accounting standards, auditing standards and quality of services provided by Chartered Accountants. The law establishing the National Financial Reporting Authority – NFRA was incorporate in the statute by Man Mohan Singh Government. Soon thereafter, Chartered Accountants communities made its hue and cry about this law.  There was news of some success for them. Soon after demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised a question on quality of services, ethics and values of Chartered Accountants in a much-hyped program organized by ICAI itself. Demonetization failure made it clear that Modi Government will enforce provisions given in the statute for the establishment of NFRA. Finally, it is enforced recently in a slight tone down version. This tone down is, unfortunately, not a face-saving for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. There is a reasonable apprehension that, irrespective of the party in power, there may be some efforts to extend the application of these provisions to other auditors like company secretaries. Soon to be elected councils of both institutes will certainly draw a plan to take on such an eventuality.

The second challenge for government and to some extent for these self-regulatory statutory institutes is to create completion in regulations and quality standards. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 created a super insolvency regulator the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India with three professional regulators competing with each other. There are suggestions to create such competing professional regulators for auditing bodies – Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Institute of Cost Accountants of India and Institute of Company Secretaries of India. Will NFRA be the super audit regulator or these three professional bodies be super-regulator for their specific domain? How will they deal with the challenge? Do their members care?

Another challenge is a proposal for a council with representation from all stakeholders (appointed by Government not just elected representatives of regulated professionals). Recently, the Medical Council of India saw drastic changes. Unfortunately, all self-regulatory statutory bodies BCI, MCI, ICAI, ICAI (CMA), ICSI and others have a poor record for their professional duty to regulate their respective profession. Their image is not of statutory regulatory bodies but of a trade union. This is at sharp contrast with other statutory regulatory bodies like Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) which regulates brokers, advisors and many other market professionals; Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) which regulates Actuaries, Undertakers and other insurance professionals; and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which regulators bankers and other financial advisors. The difference lies in their top management – their council or governing board. Will self-regulatory statutory bodies like ICAI and ICSI develop themselves as true professional regulators or be remain downgraded to be a trade union?

Recently, we saw these self-regulatory statutory bodies took advice from big and powerful advisory firms and companies. Some of these firms and companies have a multinational and national presence. Unfortunately, their powerhouses directly and indirectly influence councils of these self regulatory statutory bodies. This need urgent attention and introduction of organizational governance akin to corporate governance and independency norms.

Our major challenges are from inside but one growing challenge is to regulate multinational firms coming to India. India cannot stop them from coming under WTO regulation. We have one clue to govern them from IBBI regulations. We can ask foreign professional to be part of some firms which are governed under Indian regulations. I should clearly say Big – 4 should be governed by these self regulatory statutory bodies. If not, these self regulatory statutory bodies may be scrapped, sooner than later.

Is India prepared?

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Starting of a company without capital


This was an interesting question which I received on Quora here. How can I start a company with no capital? We will have a detailed discussion here.

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National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) and its Powers


Section 132 of the Companies Act, 2013 is the point of debate and hope for corporate governance. It paves way for constitution of National Financial Reporting Authority – a super-regulator for statutory auditors – Chartered Accountants. Optimists see it as predecessor of a future super-regulator for self regulatory statutory professional organizations – Institute of Chartered Accountants of India regulating chartered accountants and statutory auditors, Institute of Cost Accountants of India (earlier Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India) regulating cost and management accountants and cost auditors, and Institute of Company Secretaries of India regulating company secretaries and secretarial auditors. We earlier discussed the provision of Section 132 earlier here.

In this post, we will discuss Section 132 and the National Financial Reporting Authority Rules, 2018 as on 13th November 2018.

In an earlier post here, we discussed Duties of NFRA under Section 132 and the National Financial Reporting Authority Rules, 2018 as on 13th November 2018. In this post, we will discuss powers of NFRA to investigate and disciplinary proceeding as on 13th November 2018.

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National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) and its Duties


Section 132 of the Companies Act, 2013 is the point of debate and hope for corporate governance. It paves way for constitution of National Financial Reporting Authority – a super-regulatory for statutory auditors – Chartered Accountants. Optimists see it as predecessor of a future super-regulator for self regulatory statutory professional organizations – Institute of Chartered Accountants of India regulating chartered accountants and statutory auditors, Institute of Cost Accountants of India (earlier Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India) regulating cost and management accountants and cost auditors, and Institute of Company Secretaries of India regulating company secretaries and secretarial auditors. We earlier discussed the provision of original Section 132 earlier here.

In this post, we will discuss Duties of NFRA under Section 132 and the National Financial Reporting Authority Rules, 2018 as on 13th November 2018. Powers of NFRA to investigate and disciplinary proceeding shall be discussed in next post.

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Display of Registered Office Address and Information


Sub-section (3) of Section 12 of the Companies Act, 2013 is one of the most non-compliant sub-sections of section 12 if not of the Companies Act, 2013. It may be noticed that most medium and small size companies do not comply with this important provision.

A company shall display its name and other information in accordance with this subsection. This non-compliance may attract penalty up to one lakh rupees.

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A Jump to Relax Special Courts


The government of India promulgated a temporary law called the Companies (Amendment) ordinance 2018 on 2nd November 2018 to by parachute landing of few more reform measure. Constitution of India mandate that Government needs to get it approved by Parliament within 6 months. However, the companies (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018 has nothing which may require urgent attention unless government going to launch large-scale prosecutions against corporates. Moreover, soon after this ordinance government issued a consultation paper for further urgent reforms.

Readers may read this post as a law applicable with effect from 2nd November 2018 till passing law by the Parliament. In this post we will discuss minor changes related to relaxing burden of special courts.

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Ease of Doing Business Report 2019 – Corporate Law Perspective


Once upon a time falling in the line of World Bank was not fine for at least half of the world. The scenario is changing. There is a rumour that economies not only reforms but also window dress it.

India placed this year at the 77th place with 67.23 EODB scores. Unlike a layman, this EODB score concerns the exports. When we talk about this ranking is a rating of Delhi and Mumbai, not any other place. It might possible other states/cities doing better and not reflected in the report.

“India also focused on streamlining business processes. Under its National Trade Facilitation Action Plan 2017-2020, India implemented several initiatives that improved the efficiency of cross-border trade, reducing border and documentary compliance time for both exports and imports (figure 1.9). Enhanced risk-based management now allows exporters to seal their containers electronically at their own facilities; as little as 5% of shipments must undergo physical inspections. India also invested in port equipment, strengthened management and improved electronic document flow. By implementing the Single Window Clearance System in Delhi and the Online Building Permit Approval System in Mumbai during the second half of 2017, India also continued to streamline and centralize its construction permitting process. Regarding getting electricity, newly-adopted regulations from the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission require that electrical connections be completed within 15 days of the application’s acceptance. To comply with this regulation, Tata Power Delhi Distribution deployed more personnel as well as tracking tools and key performance indicators to monitor each commercial connection.” {Page 12}

A print version of the report may be downloaded from here.

SPICe added to the report

The report mentioned that India is among nation who improved by making it easier to start a business. India made starting a business easier by fully integrating multiple application forms into a general incorporation form.

Starting a Business

The starting a business ranking is fairly poor despite mentioning of SPICe in the report. The starting a Business rank among 190 economies is 137. On the scale of 100, the score for incorporation is 80.96. Starting a business in India involves 10 procedures involving 16.5 days. It cost 14.4% of per capita income of Indians. It means it is still not easy to start a formal business for an average Indian. This fact cause concern as there is no legal requirement of minimum capital for a business.

Minority Protection

This is good news. Our ranking is fairly good at 7th place with a score of 80. It can be understood that most economies are not doing fair on minority protection. So, it may not be our best efforts but the poor performance of most economies.

The extent of disclosure index (0–10) 8

The extent of director liability index (0–10) 7

Ease of shareholder suits index (0–10) 7

The extent of shareholder rights index (0–10) 10

The extent of ownership and control index (0–10) 8

The extent of corporate transparency index (0–10) 8

Resolving Insolvency

Insolvency is a very interesting phenomenon presently in India. Our improved rank is 108, a number which Indians love. Insolvency Resolution Score is 81.85. An average time for insolvency resolution is one year presently. This is quite embracing as against the promised 180 days. However, we are facing many practical issues and teething troubles.

Cost of Insolvency resolution is 3.5% of the estate evolved. Recovery rate is 85.3 cent in the Dollar.

In India the establishment of debt recovery tribunals reduced nonperforming loans by 28% and lowered interest rates on larger loans, suggesting that faster processing of debt recovery cases cut the cost of credit.

A recent study using Doing Business data showed that insolvency resolution is one of the main drivers behind “missing” corporate bond markets in many economies. More borrowers gain access to credit in economies with a robust legal system that supports the use of movable assets as collateral and a well-developed credit information sharing system.

Other major reform related to business

India (Delhi) issued a regulation prescribing new electricity charges.

India introduced the Maharashtra Goods and Services Tax Act 2017 and the Delhi Goods and Services Tax Act 2017, which unified all sales taxes into one new tax called the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Performance on corporate law front

Overall performance on corporate law front is not satisfactory. We can notice that last year insolvency related score and rating were improved due to the introduction of the law. Practical implementation of the same was not so satisfactory. Same is also true for incorporation of a company or starting a business.

Targeted reforms

This is unfortunate that government across economies trying to improve their ease of doing business ranking and not taking a holistic approach on reforms. Various segments which might need attention but not directly related to the ranking are not taken care of.

Anyway it is good to see reforms.

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