Ministry of Corporate Affairs

Vicarious Liability of Non-Executive Directors - A Case for Reform of Law

Context:

The vicarious liability provisions have been evolving ever since the evolution of law of torts. “Offence by companies” is a standard vicarious liability provision in most statutes, which is often used to fasten the liability on directors for the acts and omissions of the company. These vicarious liability provisions are borrowed from colonial-era laws and incorporated in our domestic legislations. As a rule, there is no concept of vicarious liability in criminal law. Such provisions imposing liability on directors for acts/ omissions of the company are present in most statutes.

The vicarious liability provisions have a standard language providing that the person-in-charge of and responsible for the conduct of the business of the company at the time of the commission of the offence, as well as other officers are liable for that offence. However, those provisions do not make a distinction between Managing Directors (“MDs”)/ Executive Directors (“EDs”) and Non-Executive Directors (“NEDs”)/ Independent Directors (“IDs”).
Continue Reading Vicarious Liability of Non-Executive Directors: A Case for Reform of Law

The provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 (the Act), and the rules framed thereunder, mandate companies to file requisite documents, including annual returns and financial statements, with the concerned Registrar of Companies (RoC) of their jurisdiction. Non-adherence to such provisions and non-filing of the requisite documents is an offence, exposing non-complaint companies and its directors to severe penal consequences, including fines and prosecution.

However, the records of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) and the National Company Law Tribunals (NCLT) would clearly reveal that a lot of companies have been non-compliant with their filings. This non-compliance has been a menace to all the stakeholders involved, including, inter alia, (i) the companies and directors who have to face penal consequences for such non-compliances; (ii) the MCA and its administration who are engaged in the process of updating the records; (iii) the public/ shareholders who do not get access to the records of the companies; and (iv) the NCLT and the office of Regional Directors, which are burdened with compounding cases.


Continue Reading A Fresh Start for Companies

To battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the central government and the various state governments imposed a nationwide lockdown in India. Additionally, to arrest the spread of the pandemic, government authorities and corporates are promoting “work from home”, and wherever necessary to work with minimum work force. Acknowledging the difficulties faced by corporates on account of the threat posed by COVID-19, requiring social distancing in day-to-day functioning, governmental authorities have granted various exemptions and reliefs by issuing circulars and amending rules to ease compliance requirements to be complied by companies.

This blog analyses the recent reliefs and relaxations announced by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India (MCA), and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which may have an impact on financing transactions.


Continue Reading Social Distancing while approving financing transactions: MCA, SEBI Relaxations

Ministry of Corporate Affairs circular - Legal Enforceability

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has been entrusted with the responsibility of administering the Companies Act, 2013 (Act). The MCA, from time to time, issues circulars and clarifications to clarify the provisions of the Act and the rules made thereunder (Rules). For example, in the first year of operation of the Act, the MCA issued 89 clarificatory circulars. In 2015 and 2016 the number was 22 and 21 respectively. In this article, we assess whether such circulars and clarifications are legally enforceable and how far companies may rely on them.

Here, it is pertinent to note that unlike Section 119(1) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, which empowers the Central Board of Direct Taxes to issue orders, instructions and circulars, there is no corresponding provision in the Act that empowers the MCA to issue such circulars and clarifications. As explained in our earlier post, executive action reflects steps taken by the Government in its sovereign authority. Article 73 of the Indian Constitution states that, subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the executive power of the Union extends to matters on which the Parliament’s legislative power extends. However, this power cannot operate in matters of an ‘occupied fieldi.e., where prior legislation over the subject matter exists.
Continue Reading Ministry of Corporate Affairs Circulars – Are They Legally Enforceable?

Section 42 of the Companies Act, 2013 read with Rule 14 of the Companies (Prospectus and Allotment of Securities) Rules, 2014 are substantive provisions for regulating private placements by Indian companies. These provisions are, of course, in addition to applicable regulations prescribed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) for listed companies. Recently, both Section 42 and Rule 14 have undergone amendments by way of the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2017 and the Companies (Prospectus and Allotment of Securities) Second Amendment Rules, 2018, respectively (the “Recent Amendments”).
Continue Reading Recent Amendments to the Private Placement Guidelines – Revamp or Cosmetic?