Bill to decriminalise offences by companies introduced

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced the Companies (Amendment) Bill to replace the Companies Amendment Ordinance promulgated by the government last month. PTI Photo

The government on Thursday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha that seeks to shift jurisdiction of 16 types of offences from special courts to in-house adjudication, a move that would lessen the burden on the courts by up to 60%.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced the Companies (Amendment) Bill to replace the Companies Amendment Ordinance promulgated by the government last month.

The Bill also seeks to empower the central government to allow certain companies to have a different financial year instead of the one determined by the Tribunal.

It also seeks to provide relief to companies and professionals alike by decriminalizing a host of offences.

The Bill also has provisions for instituting a transparent and technology-driven in-house adjudication mechanism on an online platform and publication of the orders on the website.

The Bill also seeks to bring in corporate governance reforms including re-introduction of the declaration of commencement of business provision; holding of directorships beyond permissible limits to trigger disqualification of such directors and non-maintenance of registered office to trigger re-registration process.

It also seeks to de-clog the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) by enlarging the pecuniary jurisdiction of Regional Director by enhancing the limit up to Rs 25 lakh as against the earlier limit of Rs five lakh under Section 441 of the Act.

In August, a government-appointed panel had suggested various changes to the Act, including the restructuring of corporate offences under the companies law and an in-house adjudication mechanism to ensure that courts get more time to deal with serious violations.

The government promulgated an Ordinance to implement the recommendations of the panel.

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Bill to decriminalise offences by companies introduced

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