An analysis of the Model Tenancy Act, 2019

1.      Introduction

In India, every state has its own law on tenancy matters. The matters, which are not covered by state legislations are governed by the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 (“TPA”), which is central legislation dealing with the matters between tenants and landlords. However, it covers transaction between tenant and landowner in the form of a lease. Codified legislation dealing exclusively on rent related matters in the real estate market has been long ignored in India. Lack of an exclusive legal framework hampered the growth of rental housing segment and resulted in low investments in the rental housing sector. The draft Model Tenancy Act, 2015 was an effort made earlier to codify the law on tenancy. but majority of states never implemented the same. In Union Budget 2019, it was proposed that in order to promote rental housing, new tenancy laws will be formulated to remove the archaic laws currently in use. In furtherance to the said proposition, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MHUA) released the draft Model Tenancy Act, 2019 (“MTA”) on July 10, 2019, which aims to regulate rental housing by a market-oriented approach while balancing interests of landowner and tenant at the same time. The article points out current problems of rental housing in India along with the issue that how MTA is going to compensate for these problems. It also presents an overview of MTA and loopholes present in it.

2.      Need for rental housing

Housing is one of the basic necessities of life. The rapid pace of urbanization in India has resulted in severe shortage of housing. People go for rental housing because  low-income or people are not ready to build their own house.In spite of government’s prime consideration to affordable housing, many poor households live in congested conditions, which indicates that housing is unaffordable for a large section of population, be it ownership or rental.

The Draft National Urban Rental Housing Policy, 2015 (“the Policy”) pointed out that there is a huge housing shortage in urban areas and on the other hand, there are massive stocks of vacant houses.[1]Possible reasons ascertained for vacant houses could be  low rental yield, fear of repossession, lack of incentives etc. The Policy defines rental housing as a property occupied by someone other than the owner, for which the tenant pays a periodic mutually agreed rent to the owner.[2] The policy suggested that if these vacant houses are made available for rental housing, then some, if not most of the urban housing shortage, could be addressed.[3] Hence, the need for rental housing can be understoodunder the following heads-

  1. An alternative to eliminate the problem of housing shortage in view of ever-increasing population of India.
  2. Prevention of future growth of slums by providing affordable housing to all.
  3. Rental housing could be turned as a steady source of income for the landlords, making investment in rental market attractive.

3.      Current problems of rental housing in India

Rental housing is a subject on which States have exclusive right to legislate. It is a state subject as mentioned under item 18 in List II of Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. Although, Central Government can guide the states as we have a quasi-federal structure in India, therefore, Central Government has power to make model law on rent control or tenancy.

At present, nearly every state has its own law governing matters relating to rental housing in their jurisdiction in the name of Rent Control Laws. However, these rent control laws are not adequate to satisfy the need for rental housing in true sense. Because, issues, such as lack of affordable housing, lack of investment in rental housing etc., are still present in the country.

The problems of rental housing in India, as present under different existing rent control laws, can be encapsulated as follow:

  1. Fixation of standard rent:

Existing rent control laws provide for standard rent or fair rent, which is calculated on the basis of cost of construction involved, when the premise was built and does not include present market value of the premise as a consideration to determine standard rent. This proves to be major disincentive for landlords and investors, who want to invest in rental market as it will give very low rate of return.

  1. Overstaying problem of tenants:

Existing rent control laws do not provide for any remedy for when tenants do not vacant the rent premises even after termination of the tenancy period. Therefore, landlords often fear that they might lose control on their premises and had to go long litigation process for recovering their premises.

  1. Reduced liquidity for landlords:

Freeze of availability of rental housing is evident in light of the long litigation proceedings relating to recovery of rental premises by the landlord or proceedings relating to eviction of tenants. When the proceedings are undergoing, it is difficult to rent out the premises which are lis pendens in court of law and thereby it reduces liquidity for landlords in the market.

  1. Security deposit:

From the point of view of tenants, it is unfair to give limitless amount to the landlords in the name of security deposit or pugree. Existing rent control laws do not provide for any upper cap as far as security deposit is concerned and tenants have to suffer in the hands of landlords, who demand lump sum amount as much as they want at the beginning of tenancy period. Because of this practice, poor households choose to live in slum areas as they cannot afford to give arbitrary amount of security deposit, which leads to lack of affordable housing in the Country.

  1. Landlord’s right to evict the tenant on false grounds:

It has been seen in many cases that landlords file false cases to evict tenants on the ground of non-payment of rent because most of the existing rent control laws do no mandate receipt of rent to be given by the landlord.

  1. Lease under Transfer of Property Act, 1882:

Section 105 of the aforesaid Act defines lease as “a lease of immoveable property is a transfer of a right to enjoy such property, made for a certain time, express or implied, or in perpetuity, in consideration of a price paid or promised, or of money, a share of crops, service or any other thing of value, to be rendered periodically or on specified occasions to the transferor by the transferee, who accepts the transfer on such terms. The transferor is called the lessor, the transferee is called the lessee, the price is called the premium, and the money, share, service or other thing to be so rendered is called the rent.” It is to be noted that in case of a lease agreement, terms of the same cannot be changed until the expiry of the lease period unlike tenancy agreement. In practice, landlords often opt for tenancy agreement under rent control laws where they can execute tenancy on a month-to-month basis and can alter its terms.. However, in areas with high vacancy rate of rental premises, landlords choose for lease agreement under Section 105 and thereby make the use of rent control laws fatal. In addition, TPA and rent control laws do not mandate a written agreement to be executed, which is another problem to enforce the rights of either party to the oral agreement and leads to never-ending litigation proceedings in case of disputes.

  1. Leave and License Contract:

Apart from rent control laws and lease under the TPA, people often use leave and license contract as given under the Indian Easements Act, 1882. Section 52 of the said Act defines license as- “where one person grants to another, or to a definite number of other persons, a right to do, or continue to do, in or upon the immovable property of the grantor, something which would, in the absence of such right, be unlawful, and such right does not amount to an easement or an interest in the property, the right is called a license.” Hence, the licensor gives the license to the licensee to use the property, which includes usage same as applicable to rental market without transferring a specific interest in the immovable property. Thus, to execute a landlord-tenant relationship, there exist different contracts under the different names and different procedures, the ambiguities of which can be used by the landlord or tenant to influence the law as per their needs.

4.      Overview of MTA

MTA has been drafted with a view to balance the interests of the landowner and tenant and to provide for speedy dispute redressal by establishing adjudicatory bodies under MTA. It also tries to create an accountable and transparent environment for renting the premises and promotes sustainable ecosystem to various segments of society including migrants, professionals, workers, students and urban poor. To understand what MTA proposes for tenants and landlords, a brief overview has been presented here under the following heads-

4.1       Institutional framework – regulatory and judicial bodies-

Rent Authority-

Section 29 of MTA provides for the appointment of Rent Authority to be an officer who is

not below the rank of Deputy Collector. Rent Authority exercises same power as vested in Rent Court in the following matters-

  1. Upload details of tenancy agreement on a digital platform in the local vernacular or state language in the form prescribed and provide a unique identification number to the parties[4];
  2. Fix or revise the rent on an application by the landowner or tenant[5];
  3. Investigate the case and pass an order in case of deposit of rent by the tenant with the rent authority, if the landowner does not accept the rent[6];
  4. Allow the tenant, if requested, to vacate the premises if it becomes uninhabitable in absence of repairs by the landlord.[7]
  5. Conduct an inquiry and allow compensation or levy penalty in case of an application made to it by the landlord or tenant if any person cuts-off or withholds any essential supply or service in the premises occupied by the tenant or the landowner.[8]

Rent Court and Rent Tribunal-

Section 32 and 33 provides for the constitution of Rent Court and Rent Tribunal respectively. Section 34 gives exclusive jurisdiction to Rent Court and Rent Authority to hear and decide the applications relating to disputes between landowner and tenant and matters connected with and ancillary thereto. For speedy disposal of cases, Rent Court or Rent Tribunal has to dispose the case within 60 days from the date of receipt of the application or appeal and shall record the reasons in writing in case of disposal of case exceeds 60 days period.[9]Appeal from the orders of the Rent Court lies to the Rent Tribunal.[10] In addition, order of Rent Court or Rent Tribunal shall be executable by as a decree of a civil court.[11]Following reliefs can be given by the Rent Court[12]:

  1. Delivery of possession of the premises to the party in whose favor the decision is made;
  2. Attachment of bank account of the losing party for the satisfaction of the amount to be paid;
  3. Appoint any advocate or any other competent person including officers of the Rent Court or local administration or local body for the execution of the order.

4.2       Scope of coverage-

MTA applies to any premises, which is, let separately for residence or commercial or educational use except industrial use.[13] However, MTA does not provide what constitutes residence/commercial/educational/industrial use. Besides, MTA does not apply to the following premises[14]

  1. Hotel, lodging house, dharamshala or inn etc.;[15]
  2. Premises owned or promoted by-
    1. The Central/ State/ UT Government, or
    2. Local Authority, or
    3. Government undertaking or enterprise, or
    4. Statutory body, or
    5. Cantonment board;
  3. Premises owned by a company, university or organization given on rent to its employees as part of service contract;
  4. Premises owned by owned by religious or charitable institutions as may be specified by notification;
  5. Premises owned by owned by any trust registered under the Public Trust Act of the State;
  6. Premises owned by owned by Wakfs registered under the Wakf Act, 1995;
  7. Any other building specifically exempted in public interest through notification.

However, if the owner of any of the premises mentioned under in (b) to (g) wishes a tenancy agreement to be regulated under MTA, then he can inform the same to the Rent Authority.

4.3       Protection of landlord-

As stated above the prime object of the MTA is to eliminate the fear among landlords regarding repossession of their premises and increase the growth of investment in rental sector of the market. Keeping this view, MTA proposes to give protection to landlord in following manner-

  1. Subletting of rented premises cannot be effected without prior consent of landlord in
  2. writing along with disclosure of all details of sub-letting to landlord by the tenant. .[16]
  3. Landlord is allowed to make deduction from security deposit amount for any liability of the tenant.[17]
  4. Landlord is allowed to deduct the amount from the security deposit or can ask the amount payable from the tenant, in case the tenant refuses to carry out scheduled or agreed repairs in the premises.[18]
  5. Landlord can file an application to the Rent Authority against the tenant in case of cut-off or withhold of any essential supply or service in the premises by the tenant.[19]
  6. Landlord can evict the tenant on an application made to the Rent Court on any of the grounds mentioned under Section 21. These grounds are-
  7. Failure of agreement on rent payable;
  8. Failure of tenant to pay the arrears of rent in full and other charges payable unless the payment of the same within 1 month of notice being served on the tenant;
  9. Tenant has parted with the possession of whole or any part of the premises without obtaining the written consent of the landlord;
  10. Tenant has continued misuse of the premises even after receipt of notice from the landowner to stop such misuse;
  11. The premises are required by the landlord for carrying out any repairs, additions, alterations etc., which cannot be carried out without the premises being vacated unless re-entry of tenant has been pre-agreed between the parties;
  12. The premises or any part thereof are required by the landlord for carrying out any repairs, additions, alterations etc. for change of its use as a consequence of change of land use by the competent authority;
  13. Tenant has given written notice to vacate the premises and in consequence of that notice, the landlord has contracted to sell the accommodation or has taken any other step, as a result of which his interests would seriously suffer if he is not put in possession of that accommodation.
  14. In case of overstay of the tenant beyond tenancy period, the landlord is entitled to get compensation of double of the monthly rent for 2 months and 4 times of the monthly rent.[20]
  15. Landlord can make any construction or improvement to the rented premises after permission of the Rent Court obtained in this behalf.[21]
  16. Landlord is allowed to fix or revise the rent payable by the tenant, provided the same should be agreed by the tenant in the tenancy agreement.[22]

4.4       Protection of tenant-

MTA has not only given protection to landlords but balances the interests of the tenants as well. With this view, MTA proposes to give protection to landlord in the following manner-

  1. In the event of death of the tenant, his/her successors will have the same rights and obligations as agreed in tenancy agreement for the remaining period of the tenancy.[23]
  2. Rent cannot be increased during the tenancy period, unless the amount of increase or method for increase is expressly set out in the Tenancy Agreement.[24]
  3. Tenant is entitled to get refund of the security deposit amount at the time of vacating the premises after deduction of amount of liability, if any.[25]
  4. Tenant is entitled to get a written acknowledgment rent receipt by the landlord.[26]
  5. Where the landlord refuses to accept the rent, tenant may deposit it with the Rent Authority.[27]
  6. Tenant is allowed to deduct the amount from periodic rent, in case the landlord refuses to carry out the scheduled or agreed repairs in the premises.[28]
  7. Where the premises becomes uninhabitable and landlord refuses for repairs, thenthetenant has the right to vacate the premises after giving 15 days notice in writing to the landlord or with the permission of the Rent Authority, in case the.[29]
  8. Tenant can file an application to the Rent Authority against the landlord in case of cut-off or withhold of any essential supply or service in the premises by the landlord.[30]
  9. Tenant is entitled to get refund of such an advance amount and interest, in case of default, after deduction of rent and other charges in case of eviction proceedings initiated by the landlord under Section 21.[31]
  10. Tenant may give up possession of the premises on giving a one-month prior notice or notice as required under the tenancy agreement to the landlord.[32]

5.      How will the MTA help rental housing issue?

MTA recommends eradicating the existing rental housing problems by incorporating needful provisions. MTA has recognized the problems in existing rent control laws in its preamble as lack of growth of rental housing segment and lack of the landlords renting out their vacant premises. For better understanding of these needful provisions in MTA, a comparison of key provisions of existing rent control laws and MTA has been produced in Annexure A. In conclusion, the table suggests that MTA provides for market-oriented approach by leaving the fixation of rent amount on parties[33], who may fix or revise it considering current market value of the premises and thereby increasing the possibilities of high rate of return to the investors in the rental housing market. On the other hand, to remove the fear of the landlords of losing possession of the premises has been taken care by MTA by giving a remedy in form of compensation to the landlord[34].

6.      What do the state governments have to do?

As mentioned above, housing is a state subject and States have exclusive right to legislate upon it. MTA proposes only a model on how the issues relating to rental housing as existed under current laws relating to tenancy can be eliminated. It is completely on the states to adopt or not adopt MTA in their state. For better functioning of the rental housing in the state and to resolve the issues as point out above, state should adopt MTA. Moreover, States are free to make amendments in the proposed provisions in MTA while incorporating the same in their states.[35]

7.      What incentives will the state governments have for enacting the MTA?

MTA only proposes a model and States are under no obligation to enact MTA in their respective jurisdictions. Therefore, what the states will get for enacting MTA is equally an important question to consider. Section 46 of MTA provides that if any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions MTA, the State/UT Government may, by order, not inconsistent with the provisions MTA, remove the difficulty. Hence, any State enacting MTA is empowered to remove difficulty or amend the provision in their jurisdiction, if there arises any difficulty in implementation of the MTA.

Moreover, housing is one of the basic needs of life and raising the standard of living of its people is one of the primary duties of State as enshrined under the Article 47 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, States shall make every endeavor to resolve the issue of affordable housing in the best manner possible and MTA serves this objective well.

8.      Drawbacks of the MTA

Despite all the good attempts made in the provisions of MTA to remove the current problems relating to rental housing, MTA shortfalls on following grounds:

  1. Moreover, the term ‘Landlord’ covers ‘Lessor’ and the term ‘Tenant’ covers ‘Lessee’ in its definitions, but the MTA nowhere provides that it will override the provisions relating to Lease under the Transfer of Property Act, 1882. Therefore, usage of the term lessor/lessee would create conflict in practice since application of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 is not clarified under the MTA .
  2. Lodging house and hotels are kept outside the scope of MTA. Therefore, application of the MTA to premises providing paying guest facilities is not clear.
  3. MTA provides for prospective application and gives no redress to tenancies, which are already in existence, prior to the commencement of MTA. Hence, position regarding existing tenancies is left untouched.
  4. Successor-in-interest has not been included in the definition of the term ‘tenant’ under Section 2 (m) of the MTA. However, Section 6 provides for successors of the tenant to come into the shoes of tenant in case of his/her death. This provision creates anomaly that after death of tenant, his/her successor-in-interest may deny acceptance of tenancy agreement on the ground that he/she is not covered within the definition of the term ‘tenant’.
  5. The term ‘rent’ is not defined under the Act, because of which, the form of rent payable is not clear, i.e. whether it has to be necessarily in cash or kind or crops or services rendered.
  6. The MTA does not address the situation in case of failure to execute tenancy agreement, failure to obtain consent of landowner for subletting, failure to refund security deposit at the time of taking over vacant possession of the premises by the landlord, failure to observe obligations imposed on parties. Although specific establishment of adjudicatory bodies has been provided under the MTA but the same results in increase of litigation matters before judicial bodies established under the MTA.
  7. MTA is open to be adopted by the States and does not necessarily impose application of its provisions to State.
  8. MTAdoes not talk about weak bargaining power of tenants and allows parties to agree on rent amount, which may cause prejudice to weaker sections of the society.
  9. MTA does not talk about over-riding effect of MTA on existing laws on tenancy, lease under the TPA, license under the Indian Easements Act, 1882 to uphold the objectives of the MTA.

9.      Conclusion

MTA is a welcoming step in rental matters relating to any premises. Establishment of the adjudicating authorities is going to lessen the burden on lower courts in the country in the matters relating to tenancy. However, application of the MTA would be interesting to see as to how many states actually implement MTA because it is only a model and not mandatory for states to adopt it.

 

 

Annexure-A

Comparison of Existing Rent Control Laws and MTA:

The author has tried to analyze some of the major existing rent control laws[36]in comparison with the MTA. The same has reproduced in a table form below:

Point of difference Existing Laws MTA Comments
Purpose of the Act 1.      Control of rent and protection of tenant from payment of rent more than the standard rent, and

2.      Protection of tenants from eviction,

 

It provides not only for protection of tenants but also provides for protection of landowners. Most of the existing rent control laws are tenant-centric; whereas MTA balances the interests of landowner and tenant.
Exemption  Premises belonging to the Government are exempted but no specific provision is present regarding exemption of religious or charitable premises and premises owned by a university except Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999.[37] MTA exempts any premises owned by the Government, religious or charitable institutions, and premises owned by a company, university or organization given on rent to its employees as part of service contract.[38] MTA applies to all kind of government occupied premises and publicly used premises unlike existing rent control laws.

 

Definition of ‘Landlord’ If the premises were let to a tenant then landlord means a person who-

1.      is receiving, or is entitled to receive the rent of any premises, or

2.      trustee, guardian or receiver, who is receiving or is entitled to receive rent, on behalf of, or for the benefit of, any other person who cannot enter into a contract (such as minor, person with unsound mind etc.).

 

If the premises were let to a tenant then landlord (Landowner/Lessor) means a person who[39]

1.      is receiving, or is entitled to receivethe rent of any premises,and

2.      includes successor-in-interest,

3.      trustee, guardian or receiver, who is receiving or is entitled to receive rent, on behalf of, or for the benefit of, any other person who cannot enter into a contract (such as minor, person with unsound mind etc.).

MTA covers Lessor within the term ‘Landlord’ and includes successor-in-interest unlike existing rent control laws.

 

Definition of ‘Premises’ Premises mean any building or part of a building rented out, and includes-

1.      Gardens, garages or outhouses, any furnituresupplied by the landlord,

2.      any fittings affixedto such building.

However, premises do not include hotel, lodging house.

 

 

Premises mean any building or part of a itrented out for the purpose of residence or commercial or educational use, (except for industrial use) and includes[40]

1.      the garden, garage or closed parking area, grounds and out-houses, appertaining to such building or part of the building,

2.      any fitting to such building or part of the building for the more beneficial enjoyment thereof,

However, premises do not include hotel, lodging house, dharamshala or inn etc.[41]

State RCAs do not explicitly exclude industrial use, unlike MTA and do not specifically recognize a particular purpose of use of building to be cover within the term ‘premises’.
Definition of ‘Tenant’ Some of the rent control laws do not provide definition of term ‘tenant’. And others include tenant as a person-

1.      who is paying the rent, or

2.      deemed tenant, or

3.      sub-tenant,

4.      member of tenant’s family in case of death of tenant.

Tenant/Lesseemeans a person[42]

1.      by whom the rent is payable, or

2.      on whose behalf the rent is payable, and

3.      includes a sub-tenant,and

4.      any person continuing in possession after the termination of his tenancy whether before or after the commencement of this Act.

However, tenant does not include any person against whom any order or decree for eviction has made.

MTA does not include successor-in-interest within the definition of tenant.
Standard rent Standard rent means a rent fixed by the Controller under rent control laws. No provision is made. MTA does not provide for the definition of the term ‘rent’.
Tenancy agreement It was not necessary and tenancy can be affected even without entering into tenancy agreement. It means a written agreement executed by the landowner and the tenant.[43] Moreover, it is mandatorycondition for a tenancy to come into effect.[44] MTA making the tenancy agreement mandatory unlike existing rent control laws.
Sub-letting No provision regarding prior written consent of landlord for sub-letting by tenant. Prior written consent of the landowner is madecompulsory.[45] More stringent provision.
Fixation of rent Rent fixed (standard rent) based on the value of land andcost of construction when built. The rent is the amount agreed between the landowner and the tenant as per the terms of the tenancy agreement.[46] Standard rent or fair rent concept has removed in MTA.
Increase in rent It is unilateral by the landlord with the approval of the controller. Revision of rent between the landowner and the tenant shall be as per the terms set out in the Tenancy Agreementor on a prior 3 months notice to the tenant.[47] Mutually agreed increase in rent is provided under MTA unlike rent control laws.
Temporary recovery of possession The landlord is entitled to get possession of the building, if bona fide, it is required by him to carry out repairs, alterations or additions, which cannot be carried out without the building being vacated, after which the building will again be offered to the tenant.

 

Rent Court may on an application made to it, make the order that the landlord is entitled to get possession of the premises or any part thereof on account of any repairs or rebuilding or additions or alterations or demolition, which cannot be carried out without the premises being vacated, provided that such re-possession has to be mutually agreed to between the landowner and the tenant and the new tenancy agreement has to submitted with the Rent Authority.[48] More requirements that are stringent have been put on the parties under MTA.
Deposit of rent Many of state rent control lawsdo not provide for deposit of rent lawfully payable to the landlord in respect of the building, before the authority as may be prescribed. Explicit provision provided for deposit of rent with the Rent Authority where the landowner does not accept the rent or refuses to give a receipt or if landowner does not accept the rent.[49] Transparency and accountability enabled provision.
Overstay of tenant No deterrent provision, therefore landlords fear to give their houses on rent, which in turn reduces the supply of renting houses in the market. It provides for compensation i.e. four times the rent, to the landlord.[50] MTA provides Remedy in favour of landlord.
Rent Receipt on payment of rent No provision. Every tenant is entitled to get a written receiptfrom the landowner for the amount paid to him.[51] Tenant friendly provision to eliminate abuse against tenants.
Security deposits No explicit provision existed for security deposits/ pugree in addition to rent. MTA provides for 2 months’ rent in residential property, 1-month rent in non-residential property as security deposit.[52] MTA provides elimination of abuse against tenants.
Inheritance of tenancy Order of inheritance has provided in most of the state RCAs. No order of successors has given in MTA.[53] MTA introduces more wide import in case of inheritance of tenancy.
Structural alteration to the rent premises Rent control laws provide for structural alteration without consent of tenant and increase rent. MTA provides for structural alteration to rent premises only if the same is provided in the  agreementwith the tenant and increase the rent.[54] Tenant friendly provision to eliminate abuse against tenants.
Adjudicatory Authority Controller or Civil Courts Rent Authority, Rent Court, Rent Tribunal[55] Specific adjudicatory bodies introduced in MTA for speedy disposal of rent related matters.

 

 

 

[1]Draft National Urban Rental Housing Policy, 2015, p 10.

[2]Id. At p 5.

[3]Id.

[4] Section 4 (4), MTA, 2019.

[5] Section 10, MTA, 2019.

[6] Section 14 (2), MTA, 2019.

[7] Section 15 (5), MTA, 2019.

[8] Section 20, MTA, 2019.

[9] Section 35 (2), MTA, 2019.

[10] Section 37, MTA, 2019.

[11] Section 36 (7), MTA, 2019.

[12] Section 38 (1), MTA, 2019.

[13] Section 2 (e), MTA, 2019.

[14] Section 3, MTA, 2019.

[15]Id.

[16] Section 7, MTA, 2019.

[17] Section 11 (2), MTA, 2019.

[18] Section 15 (3), MTA, 2019.

[19] Section 20, MTA, 2019.

[20] Section 22, MTA, 2019.

[21] Section 25, MTA, 2019.

[22] Section 8 & 9, MTA, 2019.

[23] Section 6, MTA, 2019.

[24] Section 9 (4), MTA, 2019.

[25] Section 11 (2), MTA, 2019.

[26] Section 13 (2), MTA, 2019.

[27] Section 14, MTA, 2019.

[28] Section 15 (4), MTA, 2019.

[29] Section 15 (5), MTA, 2019.

[30] Section 20, MTA, 2019.

[31] Section 23, MTA, 2019.

[32] Section 28, MTA, 2019.

[33] Section 8, MTA, 2019.

[34] Section 22, MTA, 2019.

[35] Section 46, MTA, 2019.

[36]Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999; Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958; Andhra Pradesh Buildings (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control (Amendment) Act, 1960; The West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act, 1997.

[37] Section 3, Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999.

[38] Section 3, MTA, 2019.

[39] Section 2(b), MTA, 2019.

[40] Section 2(e), MTA, 2019.

[41]Id.

[42] Section 2(m), MTA, 2019.

[43] Section 2(a), MTA, 2019.

[44] Section 4, MTA, 2019.

[45] Section 7 (1), MTA, 2019.

[46] Section 8, MTA, 2019.

[47] Section 9, MTA, 2019.

[48] Section 9 (6), MTA, 2019.

[49] Section 14 (1), MTA, 2019.

[50] Section 22, MTA, 2019.

[51] Section 13 (2), MTA, 2019.

[52] Section 11, MTA, 2019.

[53] Section 6, MTA, 2019.

[54] Section 9 (6), MTA, 2019.

[55] Chapter VI & VII, MTA, 2019.

Supreme Court’s status-quo on Essar Steel-How the tables could turn for ArcelorMittal!

– CS Megha Mittal

(mittal@vinodkothari.com)

[This article is intended for academic debate on the law around powers of the Committee of Creditors vis-à-vis the adjudicatory authorities, as it continues to evolve] Read more

ICSI Auditing standards -A guidance to the Members in Practice

By Kanakprabha Jethani | Executive

Kanak@vinodkothari.com

Background

ICSI has recently issued four Auditing Standards[1] (‘Standards’) for the members in practice namely:

  • CSAS-1 – Auditing Standard on Audit Engagement
  • CSAS-2 – Auditing Standard on Audit Process and Documentation
  • CSAS-3 – Auditing Standard on Forming of Opinion
  • CSAS-4 – Auditing Standard on Secretarial Audit

in order to enable them to carry out the audit engagements more effectively. The first three Standards will be applicable to all kind of audit engagements and the fourth one will specifically be applicable for the Secretarial Audit under Section 204 of the Companies Act, 2013. In terms of ICSI’s own language, the Standards shall be mandatorily effective from the audit engagements accepted on or after 1st April, 2020.

Objective of the Standards

Seemingly, ICSI is seeking to promote best auditing practices, uniformity and consistency in conduct of the audits by the members in practice. These are expected to strengthen the audit process and corporate governance practices. Since, varied audit practices are being carried over by different auditors, monitoring of audit process becomes cumbersome and troublesome at the same time. These Standards are expected to harmonise the audit practices among the auditors all over the country. The objective is to streamline and enable members to effectively undertake secretarial audit and ensure compliance. It is also expected that these Standards will enhance the quality of compliance.

Applicability of Standards

These Standards shall be effective and recommendatory to be accepted by the auditors on or after 1st July 2019. However, the same shall be mandatorily applicable to the audit assignments obtained on or after 1st April 2020.

Whether these Standards are statutorily required?

In order to be statutorily applicable and binding, legal backing to the provision is required. For example, for the Secretarial Standard-1 and secretarial Standard-2 have a backing of legal provision i.e. Section 118 of the Companies Act 2013. Section 118(10) provides that every company shall observe secretarial standards with respect to general and Board meetings specified by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India. In compliance of aforesaid section, companies follow these two secretarial standards. The same is not the case for other secretarial standards issued by ICSI such as, Secretarial Standard -3 relating to Dividend or Secretarial Standard-4 relating to maintenance of registers and records and hence purely voluntary.

Likewise, the Auditing standards issued by ICSI also do not carry a legal backing as of now though the same is being brought in by ICSI with an intent to make it mandatory.

What are the various audits a PCS can undertake?

A Practising Company Secretary is authorised to undertake various audits as prescribed under the Companies Act 2013, SEBI regulations and other applicable laws, some of which are as under:

  • Secretarial Audit as per provisions of Section 204 of the Companies Act 2013;
  • Half-yearly certificate certifying that all share certificates were issued by Share transfer Agent/ Registrar and transfer Agent within 30 days of lodgement of transfer as provided under regulation 40(9) of SEBI(Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations;
  • Annual Secretarial Compliance Report as per SEBI Listing Regulations;
  • Half-yearly certification of maintenance of 100% asset cover for non-convertible debt securities as per regulation 56(d) of SEBI(Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations;
  • Certificate regarding compliance of conditions of corporate governance as per SEBI Listing Regulations;
  • Share Reconciliation Certificate as per SEBI (Depositories and Participants) Regulations, 2018 etc.

These Standards shall be applicable to all these audits along with any other audit required to be done by PCS. Thus, for the purposes of these Standards, ‘Auditor’ shall mean a Practising Company Secretary undertaking any of such audits.

The list of TO DO’s for auditors

CSAS-1 – AUDITING STANDARD ON AUDIT ENGAGEMENT

This deals with roles and responsibilities of Auditor undertaking audit engagement. They also elaborates procedures and principles for entering into agreement with appointing authority.

Eligibility to take audit engagement

  • Auditor shall not hold, singly or along with partners, spouse, parent, sibling, and child of such person or of the spouse, any of whom is either dependent financially on such person, more than 2% in the paid up share capital or shares of nominal value of Rs. 50,000, whichever is lower or more than 2% voting power in the Auditee, as the case may be.
  • Auditor shall not be indebted to the Auditee for an amount of five lakh rupees or more except if such indebtedness is arising out of ordinary course of business.
  • If an Auditor was in employment of the Auditee, its holding or subsidiary company and 2 (two) years must have lapsed from the date of cessation of employment.

Things to do pursuant to CSAS-1:

  • Ensure that appointment is made as per provisions of Companies Act 2013 and rules made thereunder.
  • Submit eligibility certificate to appointing authority.
  • Obtain audit engagement letter and copy of resolution passed by appointing authority and provide acceptance thereto.
  • Ensure audit engagement letter includes:
  1. The objective and scope of the audit; if the same has been established by law, reference to relevant provisions must be stated.
  2. The responsibilities of the Auditor and the Auditee;
  3. Written representations provided and/or to be provided by the Management to the Auditor, including particulars of the Predecessor or Previous Auditor;
  4. The period within which the audit report shall be submitted by the Auditor, along with milestones, if any;
  5. The commercial terms regarding audit fees and reimbursement of out of pocket expenses in connection with the audit;
  6. Limitations of audit, if any.
  • Intimate previous auditor about such engagement, in writing.
  • Ensure that such engagement is within the limits prescribed by ICSI from time to time.
  • Maintain confidentiality of information obtained during the course of audit unless there is a legal obligation to disclose such information. Also, ensure that employees, staff and other team members also be bound by duty of confidentiality.
  • Do not agree to change in terms of engagement unless there is reasonable justification for doing so.
  • If terms of appointment are changed resulting in lower level of assurance, it shall be accepted only after considering the appropriateness of the same.
  • Any changes in terms of engagement must be agreed by way of supplementary or revised engagement letter.

 

CSAS-2 AUDITING STANDARD ON AUDIT PROCESS AND DOCUMENTATION

This Standard deals with the roles and responsibilities of Auditor with respect to maintenance of proper audit records that provides-

  • sufficient and appropriate record to form the basis for the Auditor’s Report; and
  • evidence that the audit was planned and performed in accordance with the applicable Auditing Standards and statutory requirements.

Things to do pursuant to CSAS-2

  • Formulate an audit plan as per terms of audit engagement.
  • Ensure adherence to audit plan.
  • Conduct risk assessment of auditee considering business, environmental and organisational structure and compliance requirements.
  • Evaluate high-risk areas relating to internal control systems, transparency, prudence, probity, changes in compliance team etc.
  • Obtain sufficient information of the auditee for conduct of audit.
  • Make use of systematic and comprehensive checklists.
  • Obtain necessary evidence and evaluate the same so as to support the opinion. This shall be adequately documented in audit working papers.
  • Obtain third-party confirmations wherever required.
  • Document discussions with management of the auditee in significant matters.
  • Collate the documentation for records within 45 days of date of signing of auditor’s report.
  • Maintain documentation in physical or electronic form for a period of 8 years from date of signing of auditor’s report.

Features of audit plan

  • The audit shall be planned in a manner which ensures that qualitative audit is carried out in an efficient, effective and timely manner.
  • Audit planning shall ensure that appropriate attention is accorded to crucial areas of audit and significant issues are identified in a timely manner.
  • Audit plan should be based on professional scepticism, so that it is possible to exercise professional judgment in an objective manner.

CSAS-3 – Auditing Standard on Forming of Opinion

This Standard provides details about the manner of evaluation of conclusions derived out of audit evidence which leads to formation of Auditor’s opinion.

Things to do pursuant to CSAS-3

  • Consider materiality while forming opinion.
  • Consider all relevant audit evidence before issuing audit report.
  • Apply professional judgement and scepticism to ensure evidence is factually correct.
  • Prepare audit report within the agreed time-frame.
  • Verify accuracy of facts and responses from concerned persons.
  • Adhere to generally accepted principles and practices in relation to audit process.
  • Indicate if any third-party report or opinion is being relied on.
  • Indicate if third-party report is provided by the auditee and also consider important findings of third party.
  • Carry out a supplemental test to check veracity of third-party report.
  • Express unmodified opinion if satisfied that applicable laws have been duly complied with and relevant records are free from misstatement.
  • Express modified opinion in bold or italic letters. Modified opinion is to be issued if:
    • non-compliance of applicable laws is found,
    • relevant records aren’t free from misstatement,
    • sufficient and appropriate audit evidence to ensure the above is not available.

 

 

  • Ask auditee to remove any such limitation on scope of audit which is likely to make the Auditor give modified opinion or disclaimer.
  • Give unmodified opinion, if in case of absence of sufficient and appropriate evidence, Auditor can conclude that effects of unavailability of such evidence will be non-material. However, if the effects are likely to be material, the auditor shall express disclaimer of opinion.

Format of audit report

  • The report shall be addressed to appointing authority unless the terms of engagement provide otherwise.
  • Report must be detailed. Specific formats, if any, must be followed.
  • Provide annexures for detailing of certain aspects, wherever necessary.
  • Include a section named Auditor’s responsibility in the audit report.
  • This section shall state that the audit was conducted in accordance with applicable Standards.
  • The report shall state that due to the inherent limitations of an audit, there is an unavoidable risk that some material misstatements or material non-compliances may not be detected, even though the audit is properly planned and performed.
  • Signature block shall mention name of auditor/firm, certificate of practice number/registration number and membership number of the auditor.
  • Mention clearly the date and place of signing audit report.

CSAS-4 – Auditing Standard on Secretarial Audit

This Standard lays down the manner of evaluation of statutory compliances and corporate conduct in the process of doing secretarial audit u/s 204 of the Companies Act, 2013. It gives a broad structure to the audit process.

Things to do pursuant to CSAS-4

  • Take note of laws applicable to the auditee. This includes specific laws as well as general laws.
  • Review Memorandum of Association, Articles of Association, statutory books, disclosure by the auditee etc.
  • Identify events and corporate actions that took place in the audit period by reviewing website of the auditee, disclosures made to stock exchanges, statutory records of the auditee etc.
  • Verify event based as well as calendar compliances of the auditee.
  • Verify composition of Board of directors is in compliance with applicable rules and regulations i.e. optimum combination and strength is maintained and directors are not disqualified.
  • Ensure formation of required committees and proper composition of such committees.
  • Ensure decisions by board of directors are taken in compliance with the law i.e. in properly constituted meeting or by circulation.
  • Ensure that systems of compliance are adequate and effective.
  • Analyse instances of receipt of show cause notices, prosecutions initiated, fee or penalty levied etc.
  • Collect further evidence and conduct in-depth checking if a fraud is suspected.
  • If there is a sufficient reason to believe that a fraud has been committed, the same shall be reported to Audit Committee/Board/Central Government as per the process laid down under the Companies Act, 2013. Also, the same shall be included in Secretarial Audit Report.
  • Verify the comments received on reporting fraud.
  • Include fraud detected by other auditor in the audit report.
  • Report all the events that affect auditee’s going concern or alters the charter or capital structure or management or business operation or control, etc.

Conclusion

These Standards provide a broad structure to the audit process and direction as to proceeding the audit. Having a direction to proceed will make the audit more systematic. To establish these structures and systems would initially require plenty of clerical nature work. However, this is a one-time labour to be put in for structuring all the future audits.

These Standards are issued with a motive to enhance the level and quality of compliance and at the same time harmonise the audit practices being followed by various auditors. Unity of procedures ensures clarity to the auditee which enables them to ensure systematic compliance. Application of these Standards is believed to be beneficial for the Auditors as well as the companies and regulators in the long run.

[1] https://www.icsi.edu/media/webmodules/ICSI_Auditing_Standards.pdf

SEBI proposed amendments in PIT Regulation to incentivize Informants…

By Dibisha Mishra (dibisha@vinodkothari.com)

corplaw@vinodkothari.com

Introduction

SEBI’s recent Discussion Paper[i] on amendment to the SEBI (PIT) Regulations, 2015 presses the fact that mere Regulator’s watch on the illegal transactions are not enough to practically eliminate trading on the basis of UPSI. Wherein insiders are finding new ways to get into such illegal transactions including transactions through proxy, difficulty in tracking and proving the same even if they are tracked remains a challenge for SEBI. Hence, to ensure better tracking and maintain the integrity of the securities market, the regulator is intending to bring in informants to the stage. The informants shall basically be the employees or any other person who observes actual or suspected cases on insider trading. Such mechanism shall have a dedicated reporting window and also provide for near absolute confidentiality to so that the informants are not deterred by the fear of retaliation or discrimination or disclosure of personal data.

Is this altogether a new concept?

Such Informant Mechanism, is not a new concept brought in to tackle the issue of insider trading altogether. Several other regulation though out the globe have been following the same practice. One such example being UK’s Market Abuse Regulation (596/2014) which provides similar kind of reporting mechanism. This concept is similar to ‘Whistle Blower Policy’ for frauds as provided under the Companies Act, 2013. However, SEBI’s Informant Mechanism enables reporting to the regulator directly rather than routing the same to the Company’s management itself. It also takes a step further to incentivize the informants to encourage pro-active reporting.

Features

The salient features of the proposed Informant Mechanism shall be as follows:

  1. Voluntary Information Disclosure Form where information can be reported.
  2. Disclosure on source of information: The information should be original and not sourced from any other person
  3. Office of Informant Protection(OIP): A dedicated department separate from investigation and inspection wings.
  4. Submission of Information: either by himself or through a practicing advocate where the informant decides to report unanimously.
  5. Confidentiality of Informant shall be maintained throughout the proceedings, if any, initiated by SEBI unless evidence of such informant is required such proceedings.
  6. Information reported shall be taken up further if the same is material. Such information may further be forwarded to the operational department for suitable actions only after slashing down the identity details of the informant.
  7. Reporting of the functioning of OIP on an annual basis to SEBI.
  8. A dedicated hotline to guide persons on how to file information.
  9. Grant of reward where information provided as as per informant policy and amount of disgorgement exceeds Rs. 5 crores. The reward shall be paid from IEPF account.
  10. Provision for amnesty.

Few downsides

  1. Smaller cases nor covered: While the proposed Informant Reward Policy is headed to incentivize the informant to promote pro-active reporting of insider trading transactions which were earlier left undetected, the department also proposes to put the minimum threshold for the amount of disgorgement. Only those information revealing insider trading transaction amounting to Rupees Five Crores or more shall be taken up for the purpose of rewarding. This clause itself slashes down majority of comparatively smaller but rather more frequent transactions from coming under its purview.
  2. Material cases: Proposed policy states that only those cases that are material shall be processed further. The official who shall be responsible to determine whether the information is material is nowhere mentioned.
  3. Tracking System: The policy mentions no such system of tracking by the informants regarding the status of information by them.

Conclusion

The discussion paper indicates SEBI’s intention to buckle up its systems for tracking down insider trading transactions and take appropriate action. However, the extent to which the proposed policy gets implemented along with modifications, if any, is yet to be seen.

[i] https://www.sebi.gov.in/reports/reports/jun-2019/discussion-paper-on-amendment-to-the-sebi-prohibition-of-insider-trading-regulations-2015-to-provision-for-an-informant-mechanism_43237.html

SEBI’s proposed buyback rules for leverage limits: to what extent practical? Rules impose low leverage limits for NBFCs and HFCs

 

Pammy Jaiswal

Vinod Kothari and Company

corplaw@vinodkothari.com

Background

As the regulators eye the performance of business houses at the group level for getting a helicopter view of their economic position, many changes have been brought in this direction. Some of which include the requirement of preparing the consolidated results on a quarterly basis, consideration of profitability and other financial statements on a consolidated basis for the purpose of coming up with an IPO under SEBI ICDR Regulations, 2018 and recommendations of the Kotak Committee for making like changes under the Listing Regulations.

SEBI, going forward in the same direction has issued its discussion paper on the proposed changes in the buy-back conditions on 22nd May, 2019[1].  While one of the proposed changes in terms of computing the buy-back size is on the logical side, the other change on taking the debt to equity ratio on a consolidated basis for certain categories of listed companies is seemingly impractical. This note shall cover the brief of the proposed changes and certain extent of critical analysis on the same.

Buy-Back Conditions

Both section 68 of the Companies Act, 2013 (‘Act, 2013’) as well as SEBI Buy-Back Regulations spell out the conditions for buy-back, some of which are as follows:

  • Authorisation in the Articles of Association and the shares subject to buy-back are fully paid-up.
  • Source of funds for buy-back – Three sources are laid i.e. free reserves, securities premium account and proceeds of the issue of any shares or other specified securities.
  • Buy-back offer size – 25% of the paid-up share capital of the company.
  • Buy-back size – Upto 10% of the paid-up share capital and free reserves with the approval of the Board and upto 25% of the paid-up share capital and free reserves with the approval of the members of the company.
  • Debt to equity ratio post buy-back is not more than 2:1 (except for government companies which are NBFCs and HFCs and can have the ratio not exceeding 6:1).
  • Other conditions as mentioned under the SEBI Buy-Back Regulations, 2018 for listed companies going for buy-back.

Both the legislations till now require that these conditions are met on a standalone basis. However, the discussion paper suggests that considering the threshold on standalone basis may not be giving the correct and complete picture of the parent entity which is going got buy-back of its securities.

 

Accordingly, the said paper recommends certain changes which are briefly analysed below.

 

SEBI’s move for conservative computation of thresholds under buy-back

 

Sr. No. Existing Requirement Proposed change Rationale Our comments
1. Board can approve buy-back to the extent of utilising 10% of the paid-up equity capital and free reserves The threshold of 10%  to be considered on conservative basis (both standalone as well as consolidated basis, whichever is lower) ·      Complete overview of group as a whole;

·      Consolidated financials present the economic position of the entity as a whole along with its potential to serve its obligations.

 

Considering the lower of the consolidated and the standalone figures should be absolutely fine as no one will be able to take any advantage out of it, however, the change may adversely affect the buy-back size of the listed company.

 

Especially where the subsidiaries of the listed company have negative net worth, there the limits may substantially go down.

2. Members can approve buy-back to the extent of utilising 25% of the paid-up equity capital and free reserves The threshold of 25%  to be considered on conservative basis (both standalone as well as consolidated basis, whichever is lower) Same as above. Same as above.
3. Post buy-back debt to equity capital to be 2:1 (the debt to capital and free reserves ratio shall be 6:1 for government companies within the meaning of clause (45) of section 2 of the Act, 2013 which carry on Non-Banking Finance Institution activities and Housing Finance activities.) Post buy-back debt to equity capital of 2:1 (the debt to capital and free reserves ratio shall be 6:1 for government companies within the meaning of clause (45) of section 2 of the Act, 2013 which carry on Non-Banking Finance Institution activities and Housing Finance activities) shall be considered on consolidated basis, excluding subsidiaries only if the subsidiaries are regulated and have issuances with AAA ratings

 

Such subsidiaries should have debt to equity ratio of not more than 5:1 on standalone basis

Considering the situation where the subsidiary of the parent entity has large amount of debt in its books, it is not judicious to exclude such debt while computing the debt to equity ratio for the purpose of calculating the buy-back size. This change is not achievable at all considering the following:

·   NBFCs and HFCs are capital intensive;

·   NHB allows 16 times leverage to HFCs;

·   No NBFCs are running at the leverage of 2:1;

·   Even if the parent entity has surplus capital and the same is put in the subsidiary which is capital intensive, the proposition will be flawed; and

·   Considering the inverse relation between weighted average cost of capital (WACC) and leverage, if the funds are given to the subsidiary, the WACC goes up and the leverage comes down.

 

While the above changes have been discussed in the paper, it actually calls for change in the legislation itself which when made effective, will give way to these changes. Till such time, the existing framework shall continue to rule the buy-back exercise.

Whether the aforesaid suggestion is for all listed companies?

Para 4.4 of the discussion paper states that the Primary Markets Advisory Committee (PMAC) of SEBI proposed the changes for those companies which have NBFCs and HFCs as their subsidiaries. This implies that the proposed changes are with the intent of restraining the buy-back exercise for those parent companies which have subsidiaries engaged in the business of financing and therefore, have large exposure on their assets.

Further, this implies that the listed companies whose subsidiaries do not comprise of finance companies may still continue with their practice of considering the threshold at standalone basis unless otherwise mentioned.

Conclusion

While the intent of these changes are aimed to make the buy-back conditions more conservative with an overview on the economic status of the entity on a group level, however, it fails to understand the need for a higher leverage for capital intensive entities.

 

[1] https://www.sebi.gov.in/reports/reports/may-2019/discussion-paper-on-review-of-buy-back-of-securities_43054.html

Anomaly relating to much awaited e-form DPT-3

By CS Smriti Wadehra | corplaw@vinodkothari.com

 

Introduction

MCA on January 22, 2019 had issued a Notification[1] prescribing certain amendments in the Companies (Acceptance of Deposits) Rules, 2014 (‘Rules’) requiring every company (except government companies) to file:

  • a return of deposit;
  • particulars of transaction not considered as deposit; or
  • both

It is a one-time filing return, specifying the details of outstanding receipt of money or loan which have not been considered as deposits under the Rules. For filing the said dorm, the Rules specified that the reporting should be of receipt of money or loan from April 1, 2014 till January 22, 2019 and which are outstanding as on the date of filing. Further, the reporting should be done within 90 days from January 22, 2019. However, the e-form for such filing was not released by MCA.

Thereafter, on April 30, 2019, MCA vide its Notification[2] dated April 30, 2019 notified the Companies (Acceptance of Deposits) Second Amendment Rules, 2019, according to which the reporting in the one-time return (i.e., e-form DPT-3) has to be done for receipt of money or loan from April 1, 2014 till March 31, 2019. Also, the filing due-date has been extended to ninety days from March 31, 2019.

This extension was much required as the electronic version of the said form was not released by MCA. However, MCA has on the same day released the e-form as well and hence, we shall now discuss the requirements of the said form.

Requirement of Law

Referring to the erstwhile notification read with the recent general circular of MCA dated April 13, 2019, we may summarise the reporting requirement of e-Form DPT-3 as under:

  1. One time return giving the details of the outstanding receipt of money or loan which have not been considered as deposits as per Rule 2(1)(c) of the Rules for the period from 1st April, 2014 till 31st March, 2019;
  2. Periodic return which will give the details of particulars of transactions which are not considered as deposits as per Rule 2(1)(c) of the Rules within 30th June of every year containing details as on 31st March;
  3. Return for deposit which is to be filed within 30th June of every year.

At the advent of notification of the Rules, companies were under ambiguity as to how the reporting of such one-time return shall be done. Further, the e-Form also required auditor’s certificate as an attachment, but it was unclear that whether companies whwich have not received any amount as deposit were also required to provide an auditor’s certificate in this regard. Moreover, there were confusion as whether companies have to provide audited figures in the said form or otherwise. However, the e-Form was expected to clear these confusions.

Anomaly in e-Form

Even after the release of the much awaited form, the anomaly still exists. Following are the certain ambiguities in the e-Form, for which MCA’s clarification shall be awaited:

a)    Whether DPT-3 required to be filed twice?

Rule 16 of Companies (Acceptance of Deposits) Rules, 2014 provides:

“Explanation.- It is hereby clarified that Form DPT-3 shall be used for filing return of deposit or particulars of transaction not considered as deposit or both by every company other than Government company.”

Further, the provisions of Rule 16A of Companies (Acceptance of Deposits) Rules, 2014 provides:

“Every company other than Government company shall file a onetime return of outstanding receipt of money or loan by a company but not considered as deposits, in terms of clause (c) of sub-rule 1 of rule 2 from the 01st April, 2014 to the date of publication of this notification in the Official Gazette, as specified in Form DPT-3 within ninety days from the date of said publication of this notification along with fee as provided in the Companies (Registration Offices and Fees) Rules, 2014.”

On the combined reading of the aforesaid provisions, we understand that companies have to file e-Form DPT-3 as an annual requirement only, as  a return of deposit of transactions not considered as deposits every year by 30th June and also as a one-time return of outstanding money not considered deposits from 01.04.2014 to 31.03.2019. However, the e-Form as well as the Rules does not specify any such requirement. Accordingly,  companies are still under the ambiguity as – whether  filing of only  one-time return shall suffice for this financial year or two separate filing has to be done.

b)    Requirement of attaching auditor’s certificate

The e-Form DPT-3 requires companies to attach auditor’s certificate. Though not mandatory attachment, the companies are unclear as to whether the amount to be mentioned in the return has to be audited by a statutory auditor and a certificate of auditor has to be attached in each case or management certified accounts shall suffice? The e-Form does not clarify the instance.

Further, companies which shall be filing that they have not accepted any deposit or the money accepted does not qualifies to be a deposit – in such case, it is still unclear whether the auditor’s certificate certifying the company’s declaration is required or not.

Conclusion

Despite the time taken by the Ministry for coming up with the e-Form, we understand that there are still many irregularities in the e-Form as discussed briefly in our note and which has to be addressed by the Ministry. Meanwhile, considering the first day of deployment of this e-Form, we assume that there will be certain revision in the said form which might address the ambiguities.

You may also read our article on “MCA requires reporting of ‘what is not a deposit’ here- Link to the article


[2]
http://www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/CompaniesAcceptanceDepositsSecAmendRules_01052019.pdf[1] http://www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/AcceptanceDepositsAmendmentRule_22012019.pdf