Companies Bill introduced in Lok Sabha

The Bill makes it mandatory for firms to maintain their documents in electronic format, introduces the concept of e-governance, makes provision for encouraging ethical corporate behaviour and rewards employees for their integrity

New Delhi: The Companies Bill, which enhances accountability, introduces the concept of corporate social responsibility and encourages e-governance, was introduced in the Lok Sabha today, reports PTI.

The 2011 Bill was introduced by corporate affairs minister M Veerappa Moily after he withdrew a similar legislation of 2009 on the ground that the revised measure incorporating several recommendations and suggestions made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and various stakeholders.

For the first time, the Bill makes it mandatory for firms to maintain their documents in electronic format, introduces the concept of e-governance, makes provision for encouraging ethical corporate behaviour and rewards employees for their integrity.

Among the measures proposed in the fresh bill to enhance accountability are those which provide for additional disclosure norms, facilitate raising of capital, mergers and acquisition and protection of investors and minority shareholders, the Statement on Objects and Reasons of the Bill said.

The original Companies Act was enacted way back in 1956 and has been in operation ever since.

In view of changes in the national and international economic environment and growth in the economy, the need was felt to enact a new law, it said.

The Companies Bill 2009 was then introduced in Parliament and sent to the Standing Committee, which presented its report in August 2010. A large number of recommendations were made by it and suggestions came in from several stakeholders.

Many of these were accepted by the government, which then decided to withdraw the 2009 measure and introduce a fresh legislation incorporating the recommendations.

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CBEC de-freezes bank accounts of Kingfisher, Air India

Earlier this month, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) had frozen 10 accounts of Kingfisher Airlines and 11 of Air India for allegedly defaulting on service tax payments, despite collecting the same from passengers

New Delhi: The government has de-freezed the bank accounts of debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines and Air India after the two air carriers made part-payment of their service tax dues, reports PTI.

“As they (Kingfisher and Air India) have made part-payments of service tax dues, the department has lifted the freeze on their accounts,” a top Finance Ministry official told PTI.

The accounts were de-freezed on Tuesday, sources said.

Kingfisher has given a written an “undertaking” that it will pay the remaining dues toward service tax by 31 March 2012.

The Vijay Mallya-promoted airline had paid about Rs9 crore toward its service tax dues for the month of November while the state-owned carrier paid Rs8 crore.

Earlier this month, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) had frozen 10 accounts of Kingfisher Airlines and 11 of Air India for allegedly defaulting on service tax payments, despite collecting the same from passengers.

On Monday, Mr Mallya had met CBEC chairman SK Goel and requested de-freezing of the airline’s bank accounts. The department reportedly asked him to at least pay the dues for the month of November.

Mr Goel had said the Mallya-promoted airlines owed about Rs110 crore in service tax to the exchequer for the April-November period, while Air India had defaulted on the payment of Rs310 crore.

On 9th December, the government informed Parliament that banks have no plans to carry out a second round of debt restructuring for Kingfisher Airlines, which has outstanding loans worth around Rs6,419 crore.

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Activist invokes RTI to find out truth behind a bank fraud pardoned by National Consumer Forum

RTI activist Sharad Phadke who successfully pursued a case of his failed ATM transaction which was not credited to his account for 65 days, has now taken up cudgels against bank frauds against small time loan takers. A report…

Radha Nath Singh, a villager in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand was assured a loan of Rs50,000 from Bank of India, Dhanbad. With the first instalment of Rs25,000, he took a shop on rent and spent on its interiors in order to open an auto spares shop. This loan which he took came under the government’s self-employment scheme. However, instead of providing the remaining Rs25,000 to Mr Singh, the branch manager of the bank directly gave the money to a dealer who would supply the required auto spare parts. However, the dealer did not keep up to his promise of supplies. Besides, Mr Singh alleged that the bank manager had committed a fraud by directly paying a third party without his consent.

This spurred Mr Singh to write an official complaint to the bank as well as the dealer but both were mum on this count. Frustrated, he approached the consumer court which directed the bank to refund Rs85,000 as compensation for harassment along with the return of the loan. The bank wrote to the consumer forum stating that a long period has elapsed for this issue (more than a year) and so it does not merit any compensation. Mr Singh then took up the matter with the National Consumer Redressal Forum demanding justice. Shockingly, the forum directed him to refund Rs20,000 and pardoned the bank for its illegal disbursal of Mr Singh’s part loan to the dealer.

This news which appeared in one of the national newspapers caught RTI activist Sharad Phadke’s keen eye and he decided to follow up on whether the dealer returned the Rs25,000 and how much money was spent by the bank as legal fees and others to cover this fraud.

So, Mr Phadke shot off his RTI application last July to the Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) of Bank of India, Laxmi Road branch, Pune. The RTI application read as follows:

There appears to be huge wastage of public money for pulling an unemployed youth up to NCDRC, who tried to avail small loan for self employment.  Thus there is larger public interest involved, when the government is propagating inclusive growth. I therefore seek following information:

1. Total amount of expenses with break-up of legal charges paid to advocates, miscellaneous expenses, money equivalent of man hours of staff, travelling and Diem allowances etc. for contesting this case.

2. Names, designations and places of present posting of officers of bank who recommended or authorized such litigation and expenses thereof. Sec. 4 (1) (b) (iii)

3. Certified copy of all process notes and file notings relating to legal action. As per Section 4 (1) (b) (iii) and bank may use section 10 of RTI Act for segregation by blurring personal information, if need be.  

4. Certified copy of policy or board guidelines for such litigation.
[Section 4 (1) (b) (viii)]

5. Certified copy of circulars issued by HO for guidance of administrative offices and branches on litigation in courts, consumer forums/commissions. [Section 4 (1) (b) (v)]

6. Certified copy of process note of appointment of advocates on panel who represented the bank and their opinions held by bank.

7. Details of departmental action initiated by bank on erring branch manager of concerned branch for loss of Rs.27000/- to the bank. In case no action is initiated, I should be made known reasons held on record therefore. Kindly note, as per RTI Act, Section 2 (f) ‘Action not taken on any one is also information.’

8. Name, designation and official address of the disciplinary and controlling authority of the branch manager at the time of disbursement of Rs27,000.  

9. Rationale held on record, justifying such legal action on unemployed youth by a government-owned bank mandated to alleviate unemployment and poverty, at public cost. And when there is no law to support direct payment unless you have authority to pay.

10 Details of action taken on recently declared national litigation policy by
Government of India, Ministry of Law

What happened after he filed the above RTI application?

The APIO forwarded it to the Pune Zonal Office of Bank of India. The zonal office in turn send it back to Mr Phadke instead of forwarding it to PIO, Bank of India, Dhanbad (as RTI Act mandates the PIO to forward the application meant for any other department and not return it to the applicant.)

Mr Phadke filed an appeal to the First Appellant Authority (FAA) in the Pune Zonal office who forwarded it to Dhanbad. The FAA replied to Mr Phadke, but the latter alleged that false information was provided to him. So, Mr Phadke appealed to the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) in Delhi who in turn asked the appellate authority in Pune’s zonal office to investigate into the allegations of Mr Phadke of having been provided false information and provide the requisite information before 30 September 2011.

When no information was provided, Mr Phadke again went in appeal to the CIC for non-compliance. Last week, the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Shailesh Gandhi has directly ordered the Dhanbad branch to provide information by February 2012. Mr Phadke is miffed that besides information exposing the wasteful public expenditure for needless litigation was not coming by Mr Gandhi’s deputy registrar has given an order directly without thinking it fit to penalize the PIO for false information.

So now, Mr Phadke has registered an official complaint to the Chief Central Information Commissioner in Delhi against CIC Shailesh Gandhi asking what authority a deputy registrar of CIC office has to dispose off the case without hearing conducted by Mr Gandhi.

Knowing Mr Phadke’s tenacity to follow up issues, we could have a breakthrough in the case of banks playing illegally with a poor man’s loan under a government scheme. For earlier story read: http://www.moneylife.in/article/customer-awareness-banks-keeping-banks-on-their-toes/18421.html

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COMMENTS

Rajkumar Singh

4 years ago

I appreciate the painstaking efforts put in by all those, who wanted us to know that a dedicated perseverance gets paid at the end!

Why is there no effort by an organisation to display its public services for the aggrieved parties?

Because 95% of the aggrieved parties cannot fight their cases for want of time, money or support.

The corrupt ones know that they can make more money from the 95% of the non-complainants than by paying the meagre amount of penalties against 5% of the complainants!

Nagesh Kini FCA

5 years ago

This is indeed an unique instance of a dedicated RTI activist from Pune fighting the cause of an individual in far away Dhanbad based on a referral from someone in Junaghar.

All in three different states possibly not having met face to face even once!

Who'll say Bharat is not mahaan? Its citizens have humanity still left in them!

Sharad Phadke

5 years ago

In fact whole cradit of this case goes to Junaghar, Gujarat base RTI activist Mr. J. P. Shah, who brought this case to me since I was working on Bank of India ATM case and helped at each and every turning point to teach me what is RTI. Without his humble guidance I would be no where in my fight on Bank issues I have taken up.
I am just a pawn in this work and king & commander in this is rtiindia community and J P Shah. Without them I am just a normal person doing nothing. My thanks to rtiindia team & J P Shah for their help also.
If Vinita can help in file inspection of RBI then things will move faster as application, appeal, second appeal will be avoided to some extend.

Nagesh Kini FCA

5 years ago

Mr. Phadke's one-man crusade sitting in Pune and tenacity in fighting the cause of an unknown bank customer in distant Dhanbad needs to be applauded. May his tribe increase!
The casual and callous attitude of the officials at bank and at the CIC needs to be reprimanded severely.

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