Section 403 of the Companies Act, 2013 is a wake up call for companies in India. Not any more they can afford to relax and file documents months and years after they are supposed to do so.
Section 403(1) provides that documents should be submitted, filed, registered or recorded within the time specified in the relevant section for the same. For eg. most of the forms require to be filed within 30 days of the event, save for a few provisions such as Auditors appointment within 15 days, annual return within 60 days and charge registration/ modification within 300 days of the event.
The first proviso to section 403(1) provides for additional time within which the documents can be filed by paying additional filing fees. This additional period is 270 days beyond the original period of filing. Therefore in most cases a 300 days period is given for filing the document by paying the normal fees and additional filing fees.
The second proviso to section 403(1) provides that such documents can be filed beyond the said 300 days but it says “without prejudice to any other legal action or liability under the Act”
Section 403(2) provides that where the company fails to submit/ deliver the documents within the time specified including the additional time given, the company and every officers of the company shall be liable for penalty or punishment provided under the Act. This is apart from the fees and additional filing fees payable by the company for filing the document.
The various sections give different penalties for delayed filing beyond the normal period and additional period given thereunder, for eg.
1) delayed filing of annual return under section 92 is liable for a penalty of minimum Rs.50,000 but which may extend to Rs.5 lakhs and every officer of the company who is in default shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which shall not be less than Rs.50,000/- but which may extend to Rs.5 lakhs or with both;
2) for failure to file documents required under section – minimum penalty is Rs.5 lakhs but which may extend to Rs.25 lakhs for the company and every officer of the company who is in default shall be punishable with fine which shall be minimum Rs.1 lakh but which may extend to Rs.5 lakhs;
3) Audited financial statements under section 137 – Fine of Rs.1000/- per day during which the failure continues but which shall not be more than Rs.10 lakhs and MD and CFO (or in the absence of MD/ CFO, any director who is charged by the Board of complying with this section, or in the absence of any such director, all directors of the company) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine, which shall not be less than Rs.1 lakh but which may extend to Rs.5 lakhs or both;
Apparently the system will not allow filings to take place after the period stipulated in section 403 unless the company applies for a an application for condonation of delay with the prescribed authorities which in this case is the REgistar of Companies of the respective jurisdiction.
Therefore Compliance is the Need of the Hour for every company in India. Gone are the days when the companies can sleep for years on end without doing any filings whatever.