MCA has come out with a new rule with effect from 20th September, 2017 which is called the Companies (Restrictions on Number of Layers), Rules, 2017.
As per this Rule, no company shall have more than two layers of subsidiaries. Exemptions are wholly owned subsidiary or subsidiaries. Companies can however acquire more than two layers of subsidiaries outside India as per the laws of such jurisdiction.
Banking company, NBFC, Insurance company and government company is exempted from the provisions of these Rules.
Rule 3 says that the provisions of this rule shall not be in derogation to proviso to section 186(1) of the Act. That proviso says, in the first part that the company can acquire any other company incorporated outside India, if such foreign company has investment subsidiaries beyond more than two layers as per the laws of such country. The (b) portion of the proviso says that a subsidiary company can have investment subsidiary for the purpose of meeting any requirement under any law or rule or regulation thereto. The (b) proviso pertains to the Indian jurisdiction. So basically investment subsidiaries are outside the ambit of this Rule if they are the 2nd layer of subsidiaries.
Rule 4 specifies that where a company has subsidiaries in excess of the limits specified in these Rules, as on the date the Rules come into force, then it shall, within 150 days of these Rules, file with the ROC a form i.e. CRL-1, disclosing the details specified therein in the said Form. It shall not after the commencement of these Rules, have any additional layer of subsidiaries more than what it had on the date of commencement of these Rules. In case one or more layers are reduced after these Rules come into force, the Company shall keep the layers of subsidiaries at that reduced level or at the maximum level specified in these Rules. For eg. if a company has 4 layers of subsidiaries at the commencement date and subsequently one layer has dropped off, the company cannot increase the layer from 3 to 4 merely because it had 4 layers at the commencement date. It should be kept at 3 levels only.
Rule 5 is the penalty clause whereby the fine is Rs.10,000 for the company and every officer in default and if it is a continuing default, then further fine of Rs.1000 per day during the period the contravention continues.
So basically the Rule allows the companies to retain their level of subsidiaries, but not add to it. As and when the companies delete one or more of their subsidiaries, then they should retain it at that level or upto two layers and not increase it further.
The Rules is available at the MCA site at