Lok Sabha Passes Bill To Amend Companies Law
Th entrance to the Parliament House in New Delhi. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

Lok Sabha Passes Bill To Amend Companies Law

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Lok Sabha on Saturday passed a bill to amend the Companies Act and decriminalise various compoundable offences as well as promote ease of doing business in the country.

The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to decriminalise various penal provisions, permit direct overseas listing of Indian corporates and introduce a new chapter related to producer organisations in the legislation.

A reduction in penalties for certain offences as well as in the timeline for rights issues, a relaxation in corporate social responsibility compliance requirements and creation of separate benches at the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal are among the proposed changes.

Speaking on the bill, Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said decriminalisation of various provisions under the Companies Law will help small companies by reducing the litigation burden on them.

Around 48 sections of the Companies Act, 2013 will be amended to decriminalise various offences. After the passage of the bill, there will be 124 penal provisions compared with 134 in the previous version of the act.

Stressing that there will be no relaxation for serious offences, including fraud and those that cause "injury to public interest", the minister said the number of "non-compoundable" offences under the Act remains the same at 35.

Generally, compoundable offences are those which can be settled by paying a certain amount of money.

A new chapter on producer organisation will be added, the minister said, adding that it will be particularly helpful for farmer producer organisations.

For promoting "ease of doing business," the minister said that 17 provisions are being amended.

Amendment would be carried in Section 23 of the act for including an enabling provision to allow direct listing of securities by Indian public companies in permissible foreign jurisdictions. This would provide an alternative source of capital for domestic companies and also broaden their investor base.

Among others, companies with CSR obligation to spend Rs 50 lakh or less will not be required to constitute a committee in this regard.

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