Category Archives: Chapter IX – CA2013

ACCOUNTS OF COMPANIES

COMPLIANCE BY INDEPENDENT DIRECTORS


In the last post PROFICIENT INDEPENDENT DIRECTORS, we discussed the introduction of “proficiency self – assessment test” by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. The Companies (Appointment and Qualification of Directors) Fifth Amendment Rules, 2019 gives teeth to the Companies (Creation and Maintenance of database of Independent Directors) Rules, 2019. We, in this post, will discuss the Companies (Appointment and Qualification of Directors) Fifth Amendment Rules, 2019. More power is given by the Companies (Accounts) Amendment Rules, 2019.

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APPLICABILITY FORM NFRA – 1


To file or not to file NFRA – 1 still a puzzle. It seems thumb rule, if you as body corporate file Form ADT-1, do not file NFRA – 1. We will try to understand the NFRA Rules, 2018, NFRA FAQs and the Form NFRA – 1.

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Donation to National funds


Corporate Social Responsibility becomes a bureaucratic and political method of harassment for Indian companies. It was introduced under “comply or explain” regime but now companies start receiving notices for not complying even if there is an explanation. Without any significant exception, authorities are finding explanations offered by companies inadequate. Recent reports suggest, CSR will virtually be a “comply or deferred comply” regime soon. Now, all critics of law backed voluntary corporate social responsibility now stand correct. Indian companies are facing “voluntarily compulsory” Corporate Social Responsibility, “Transparently Opaque” Electoral Bonds, “politely requested” political donations, as an extension of “extortionist” taxation system.

Before criticizing me for writing a hardcore anti-establishment post at this time of the general election, please check voting pattern of parties inside the parliament and tell me the difference of opinion among political parties on such legal loot. All are the same.

When I last checked Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 as amended four times before being in present form, donation seems to be the best method of corporate social (ir)responsibility. Else a company may choose to fund a project established either by a well-connected politician, bureaucrat, businessperson or goon.

Present Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013 recommends the following funds –

  1. Swach Bharat Kosh;
  2. Clean Ganga Fund;
  3. Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund; and
  4. Any other fund set up by the central govt. for socio-economic development and relief and welfare of the scheduled caste, tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women.

Making a donation to these government funds are safe as it requires no planning, no responsibility, no social engagement, no notice, no worries, no explanation.

However, the concept of asking fund is nothing new.

Section 181 of the Act permits a company to contribute to Bona Fide and Charitable Funds etc.

Section 183 of the Act permits a company to contribute to the National Defence Fund or any other Fund approved by the Central Government for the purpose of national defence. I am happy to note in even in this hyper-nationalist and super patriotic time such donation to defence funds are not qualified to be a Corporate Social Responsibility.

Indian companies also permitted to make one more type of donation. This is under The Companies (Donations to National Funds) Act, 1951 (Act 54 of the year 1951). This forgotten Nehru era law came into force on 17th October 1951 and still operative with an objective to enable companies to make donations to national funds.

The Companies (Donations to National Funds) Act, 1951 has only one operative Section. Section 4 of this Act[1] permits Indian companies to donate to –

  1. the Gandhi National Memorial Fund;
  2. the Sardar Vallabhbhai National Memorial Fund;
  3. any other Fund established for a charitable purpose which by reason of its national importance has been approved by the Central Government for the purposes of this section.

It seems nothing was yet notified any other approved fund.

There is another law passed by the state of Gujarat referring to the Gandhi National Memorial Fund (Local Authorities Donations) Act, 1953. There is little information about this fund. Some source suggested that with an amount of $130 million it was once “perhaps the largest, spontaneous, mass monetary contribution to the memory of a single individual in the history of the world.

Sardar Vallabhbhai National Memorial Fund seems to have the same fate now. We have a great statue in the name of the great leader.

This Act is now a law in a legal coma due to a need for political correctness and corporate irresponsibility of few time donations.

I am referring to such a history of legally backed corporate donations to national funds to prove my point. This is the worst method to be socially responsible.

{Note – bura na mano holi hai – take it easy on Indian festival Holi}

[1] Section 4 of this Act read as under –

Any company may, notwithstanding anything contained in the Companies Act or in any other law for the time being in force regulating the affairs thereof, and notwithstanding that the memorandum or articles of association of the company do not enable it so to do, by an extraordinary resolution passed in accordance with the provisions contained in section 81 of the Companies Act, authorise the making of donations to the Gandhi National Memorial Fund or the Sardar Vallabhbhai National Memorial Fund, or to any other Fund established for a charitable purpose which by reason of its national importance has been approved by the Central Government for the purposes of this section.

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?

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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Serious Penal Consequence of late Annual Filing – landmine ahead


[The law stated in this post is effective from the 7th day of May 2018]

There is a perception that filing of financial statements and other documents with additional fee absolve the company from consequences under section 92, section 137 and conditional exemption given to certain companies by certain notifications issued by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

This is also a general view of the companies that any extension granted for the filing of the financial statements and other documents without additional fee grant immunity to the companies from its liabilities under mentioned provisions.

I beg to differ, conditionally.

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