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Accounts Rules amendment

MCA has vide its notification dated 24th March, 2021 amended the Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014 as follows:

Effective from 1st April, 2021 every company which uses accounting software for maintaining its books of account shall use only such accounting software which has a feature of recording audit trail of each and every transaction creating an edit log of each change made in the books of account including the date on which they were made and ensuring that the audit trail cannot be disabled.

Two more paragraphs are to be added in the Directors Report made after 1st April, 2021 and they are as follows:

  • details of any application made or pending under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and the status at the year end, and
  • details of difference between the amount of valuation done at the time of one time settlement and the valuation done while taking loan from banks & financial institutions and the reasons for the same.

Copy of the notification can be found in the MCA site. i.e. http://www.mca.gov.in

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Directors Report

The contents of the Directors Report as hitherto provided in section 217 of the Companies Act, 1956 has undergone changes in the newly enacted section 134 of the Companies Act, 2013.

The Board of Directors’ Report shall now include:

(a) the extract of the annual return as provided under sub-section (3) of section 92;
(b) number of meetings of the Board;
(c) Directors’ Responsibility Statement;
(d) a statement on declaration given by independent directors under sub-section (6) of section 149;
(e) in case of a company covered under sub-section (1) of section 178, company’s policy on directors’ appointment and remuneration including criteria for determining qualifications, positive attributes, independence of a director and other matters
provided under sub-section (3) of section 178;
(f) explanations or comments by the Board on every qualification, reservation or adverse remark or disclaimer made—
(i) by the auditor in his report; and
(ii) by the company secretary in practice in his secretarial audit report;
(g) particulars of loans, guarantees or investments under section 186;
(h) particulars of contracts or arrangements with related parties referred to in sub-section (1) of section 188 in the prescribed form;
(i) the state of the company’s affairs;
(j) the amounts, if any, which it proposes to carry to any reserves;
(k) the amount, if any, which it recommends should be paid by way of dividend;
(l) material changes and commitments, if any, affecting the financial position of the company which have occurred between the end of the financial year of the company to which the financial statements relate and the date of the report;
(m) the conservation of energy, technology absorption, foreign exchange earnings and outgo, in such manner as may be prescribed;(n) a statement indicating development and implementation of a risk management policy for the company including identification therein of elements of risk, if any, which in the opinion of the Board may threaten the existence of the company;

(o) the details about the policy developed and implemented by the company on corporate social responsibility initiatives taken during the year;

(p) in case of a listed company and every other public company having such paid-up share capital as may be prescribed, a statement indicating the manner in which formal annual evaluation has been made by the Board of its own performance and that of its committees and individual directors;
(q) such other matters as may be prescribed.

The Directors’ Responsibility Statement as hitherto provided in section 217(2AA) of the Companies Act, 1956 has two more paragraphs added to in section 134(5) of the Companies Act, 2013

(5) The Directors’ Responsibility Statement referred to in clause (c) of sub-section (3) shall state that—
(a) in the preparation of the annual accounts, the applicable accounting standards had been followed along with proper explanation relating to material departures;
(b) the directors had selected such accounting policies and applied them consistently and made judgments and estimates that are reasonable and prudent so as to give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the company at the end of the financial year and of the profit and loss of the company for that period;
(c) the directors had taken proper and sufficient care for the maintenance of adequate accounting records in accordance with the provisions of this Act for safeguarding the assets of the company and for preventing and detecting fraud and other irregularities;
(d) the directors had prepared the annual accounts on a going concern basis; and 
(e) the directors, in the case of a listed company, had laid down internal financial controls to be followed by the company and that such internal financial controls are adequate and were operating effectively.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this clause, the term “internal financial controls” means the policies and procedures adopted by the company for ensuring the orderly and efficient conduct of its business, including adherence to company’s policies, the safeguarding of its assets, the prevention and detection of frauds and errors, the accuracy and completeness of the accounting records, and the timely preparation of reliable financial information;
(f) the directors had devised proper systems to ensure compliance with the provisions of all applicable laws and that such systems were adequate and operating effectively.

Listed companies have to add the last two paragraphs in their Directors’ Responsibility Statement.

The penalties for non compliance are very hefty. It is Rs.50,000 for a company which may extend to Rs.25 lakhs and for every officer in default – imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years and with fine of minimum Rs.50,000 per officer which may extend to Rs.5 lakhs per officer.  

Compliances have become now paramount under the new Companies Act, 2013. The only way for companies to secure their compliance is to effectively engage Company Secretaries. 

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