The Companies Act 2013 is the exclusive legislation which deals with corporate social responsibility (CSR) provisions in India. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has issued various amendments to the Companies Act. On the one hand, the amendments propose to provide ease of compliance to companies; however, on the other, they also seek to penalise companies and their officers for non-compliance with CSR provisions.
The Companies (Amendment) Act 2020 and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act 2020 recently came into force, amending the Companies Act 2013 and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010. This article sets out the salient changes introduced by both amendment acts, including with respect to producer companies, offences and the remuneration of non-executive directors.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing restrictions on the movement of individuals, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) recently issued a circular allowing companies to convene their annual general meeting (AGM) through videoconferencing or other audiovisual means (ie, electronically). With AGMs around the corner, it will be interesting to see how companies will hold virtual AGMs in practice and whether companies and their members will welcome the MCA's relaxations.
India's company law regime has evolved over the years and become stricter and more penal in nature. There has been a paradigm shift in the legislature's viewpoint with regard to the Companies Act's stringency. There has also been a recent trend to promote foreign investment in India. Accordingly, the legislature has adopted measures in order to decriminalise – or at least liberalise – India's company law regime.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses' ability to comply with various statutory rules and regulations due to lockdowns and other social distancing measures. The government – particularly the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) – has proactively introduced various measures to support companies in their ability to comply with the Companies Act 2013. Most notably, the MCA has relaxed the restrictions around which corporate actions can occur at virtual board meetings until 30 September 2020.