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Companies (Amendments) Act 2015: What Has Changed and How It Helps

The object of this article is to highlight the major changes that have occurred in the Companies Amendments Act 2015 (which passed through) and its corresponding benefits.

What Is the Companies Amendment Act 2015?

The Companies Amendment Act 2015 is a modification to the existing Companies Act, aimed at creating a more business-friendly and investor-friendly legal framework while safeguarding shareholder interests.

A notable change introduced by this amendment is the addition of a new corporate structure, the holding company. This structure allows a company to own shares in other entities and exert control over them, offering enhanced flexibility for businesses, especially in terms of capital raising.

Another significant feature of the Companies Amendment Act 2015 is the introduction of ‘pre-incorporation contracts,’ enabling businesses to engage in agreements before formal incorporation, a particularly advantageous provision for startups.

Additionally, the amendment streamlines the process for foreign companies to establish a presence in India. Previously, foreign companies had to secure approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) before investing in India. The revised regulations now require foreign companies to notify the RBI after making their investment, simplifying the process and potentially attracting more foreign investment into India.

In summary, the Companies Amendment Act 2015 marks a substantial advancement for businesses in India, facilitating smoother operations and expansion. The aim is to stimulate economic growth and generate employment opportunities in the country.

Changes to Corporate Governance Mandates

In simple terms, good governance within organizations refers to the manner in which authority is wielded in the decision-making process, with a focus on benefiting all stakeholders. It involves ensuring transparency and accountability in decision-making, with the decisions being made in the company’s best interest and that of its stakeholders.

The amendments introduced by the Companies Amendment Act specifically address aspects of corporate governance, such as Independent Directors, board composition, board meetings, disclosure requirements, and the code of conduct for directors. These changes are designed to promote transparency and accountability in the operations of companies, ultimately benefiting all parties involved.

Board Structure and Qualifications

The Companies Amendment Act has introduced alterations to the structure and qualifications for boards of directors. Under the new legislation, a company is mandated to have a minimum of three directors, including at least one woman. Additionally, there must be at least one independent director, someone who is neither an employee nor a shareholder of the company. The appointment of the chairman of the board will now be made by the Director General of Corporate Affairs (DGCA) instead of the shareholders.

This modification is intended to enhance corporate governance, fostering increased accountability of companies to their stakeholders. It aims to safeguard the interests of investors and promote transparency in the management of companies. These revised regulations are applicable to all companies registered in India, irrespective of their size or nature.

Role of Independent Directors

Independent directors are considered to be a valuable addition to any board, as they provide an objective perspective and can help to improve board effectiveness. The Companies Amendment Act includes several provisions that aim to promote the role of independent directors, including greater clarity around their duties and responsibilities.

Independent directors are now required to act in the best interests of the company as a whole, rather than just the shareholders. They must also exercise due diligence and care when carrying out their duties, and must avoid any conflicts of interest. In addition, independent directors are now permitted to seek professional advice at the company’s expense in order to fulfil their duties effectively.

The amended Act also includes provisions for the removal of independent directors from office. An independent director may be removed by a resolution of the shareholders if they have been convicted of a criminal offence or if they are found to be unsuitable for the position due to fraud, negligence or other misconduct.

Overall, the amendments to the Companies Act aim to strengthen the role of independent directors in Indian companies. This is expected to improve corporate governance and help protect the interests of all stakeholders involved in businesses.

Minimum Tenure of Independent Directors

Corporate governance reform has been a hot topic in India in recent years. The country’s lawmakers have paid close attention to the issue, and as a result, several changes have been made to the Companies Act of 2013. One of the most significant changes is the introduction of a minimum tenure for independent directors.

Under the new rules, an independent director must serve on the board of a company for at least five years before he or she can be removed from office. This is intended to promote stability and improve governance by ensuring that independent directors have a vested interest in the long-term success of the company.

The change is likely to have a positive impact on investor confidence and will help to further professionalise the boardroom environment in India. It is also another step forward in the country’s journey towards global best practices in corporate governance.

Simplification in the Internal Control Processes

The amendment made to the Companies Act in India has been a big help for businesses in the simplification of their internal control processes. The main aim of the change was to make it easier for businesses to comply with the requirements set out by the law. This has been done by reducing the number of compliance rules and regulations that companies have to follow. In addition, the time limit for filing annual returns and financial statements has been extended from 21 days to 60 days. This will give businesses more time to prepare their reports and make any necessary changes.

Significant Changes

The Companies Amendment Act brings about significant changes, including the introduction of corporate social responsibility (CSR) obligations for specific companies. Companies with a net worth of ₹5 billion or more, or a turnover of ₹10 billion or more, are now mandated to allocate 2% of their average net profits for CSR activities. These activities encompass poverty alleviation, education, health, gender equality, environmental protection, and employment generation.

Another noteworthy change is the exemption of private companies from the requirement to have independent directors on their boards. Additionally, foreign investors can now hold up to 100% equity in an Indian company without prior approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The act also raises the minimum number of directors for public companies from two to three, enhancing governance and accountability.

Other key amendments include:

– Allowing companies to raise funds through preferential allotment of shares, bypassing the need for a public offering, facilitating access to new financing sources.

– Introducing penalties for defaulting on CSR expenditure, encouraging companies to fulfill their social responsibilities.

– Simplifying the process for foreign entities to invest in India, promoting increased foreign investment in the country.

The Takeaway

Overall, the Companies Amendment Act is a positive stride toward improving corporate governance, fostering responsible business practices, and encouraging companies to contribute to social welfare.

For corporate advisory assistance, reach out to the experts at Vakilsearch Today!  

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