By Pammy Jaiswal & Munmi Phukon(email@example.com)
While the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2017 (‘Amendment Act’) has brought sea changes in various provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 (‘Act’), in absence of a clarification, some of the provisions are still left open for interpretation. One of them is with respect to placing of annual return on the website of the company and this write –up revolves around the impact of the same in the pattern of FAQs.
Contents of annual return
Annual return is a detailed document in electronic form which contains the relevant data of the company in respect of one financial year and the same is prepared for the purpose of filing with the Registrar in terms of Section 92 of the Act. Some of the particulars of the return includes-
- Basic details like CIN, registered office address, email-id, principal business activities, share capital and indebtness;
- Names of the holding, subsidiary and associate companies;
- Date of Annual General Meeting (‘AGM’);
- Turnover and net worth;
- Details of KMP and directors and remuneration drawn by them,
- Meeting details;
- Penalty, punishments, etc.
- What are the changes made under Section 92 through the Amendment Act, 2017?
Ans: Following changes have been brought under section 92 of the Act are as follows:
- No details related to indebtness of the company are required to be given.
- Additional details of Foreign Institutional Investors will not be required to be given.
- Abridged form of annual return shall be prescribed for small companies, one person company and certain classes of companies which shall be prescribed by way of rules.
- Web-link of the annual return shall be given in the Board’s report instead of the extract of the annual return in form MGT-9.
- Additional time allowed under Section 403 for belated filing within additional 270 days has been done away with.
- What will be the impact of the removal of information related to indebtness?
Ans: Since the details pertaining to indebtness are already contained in the balance sheet of the company, the removal of the same will not have an impact on the disclosures made by the company.
- How will the companies comply with the requirement of providing web link of annual return as the same is filed with Registrar post AGM only? Does that mean that now companies will have to prepare their annual returns in advance?
Ans: Before the Amendment Act, companies were required to prepare and file their annual return within 60 days of holding of the AGM, while the extract of the same in MGT-9 was being annexed in the Board’s Report and sent to the members along with the AGM notice well in advance. Considering the requirement of web link of annual return in the Board’s Report, it may be interpreted in two ways:
- Prepare annual return prior to the AGM
Looking at the language of the amended text of law, the web-link of the annual return has to be given in the Board’s Report. Though CLC Committee used the phrase ‘annual return filed by the company’, however, the text in the Amendment Act simply states ‘annual return of the company’. Practically, the Board’s Report is being sent along with the AGM notice after approval of the same by the Board. Further, companies used to have a time limit of upto 60 days to prepare and file their annual return from the date of the AGM. Supposing the approval of the Board is taken 30 days prior to the AGM, the companies may henceforth be required to prepare and place the annual return on the website almost 30 days in advance of the AGM i.e. the date of approval by the Board. Accordingly, if one has to interpret the amendment in this manner, the whole exercise of preparation of annual return will have to be finished almost three months in advance as compared to the existing practice.
- Keep ready the website page for reflecting the filed annual return
The other interpretation of the amendment may be taken to mean that while the companies create a web-page for reflecting the annual return on their website and give the link of the same in their Board’s Report, such Report shall contain a statement that the annual return shall be uploaded by the company of the date of filing of the same with the Registrar and thereafter the same can be viewed by the members and stakeholders. This interpretation, in our view, is more logical because date of AGM is a mandatory field in the annual return and the same can be conclusively filled once the meeting is duly called, held and conducted on a particular date. Companies cannot fill the date prior to the holding of the meeting. Having said so, we have to wait for the rules to come up with to provide clarity.
- What will be the situation for companies which do not have to maintain their official website?
Ans: Private companies and other unlisted public companies which are not required to maintain any functional website will anyways not be affected by the said amendment and they can simply continue to prepare their annual return within the same time as their existing practice.
- For how many years should the annual return be hosted on the website?
Ans: The amendment is silent on the same. However, companies may at their discretion keep the annual return of a particular year hosted for three years or so. It can also think of creating a tab of annual return similar to that of annual report where visitors can view the annual returns for different financial years.
This obviously is the decision of the company and the practice it follows for separate set of such documents.
- Whether MGT 9 will still be required?
Ans: We will have to wait till amendment in the rules come. Seemingly, if the copy of the annual return itself will be required for placing on the website, MGT-9 will get removed.
- Whether the abridged form of annual return has been prescribed by the Ministry?
Ans: The abridged form of annual return has not been prescribed till date. We will have to wait for the rules to come out with the same.
- What will be the impact of doing away with the additional details of FIIs?
Ans: Details like addresses, countries of incorporation, registration, etc. will no more be required to be given in the annual return. The same shall help in reducing the file size of the e-form since in many cases, companies were required to attach the details of their FIIs as an optional attachment.
While the Ministry made an attempt to reduce the burden of documentation in the board’s report, it left these questions boggling in the minds of the readers. Even though we have tried to critically examine the essence of the change, one will still have to wait for the rules to come in this regard since the amendment itself is not giving a clear picture.
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