what is the Scope of Secretarial Audit under section 204 of the Companies Act, 2013?
Dear Friend, **Meaning of secretarial Audit** Secretarial Audit’ is introduced by recently enacted Companies Act, 2013. It is a process to check compliances made by the Company under Corporate Law & other laws, rules, regulations, procedures etc. It is a mechanism to monitor compliance with the requirements of stated laws and processes. Secretarial Audit gives comfort to the regulators, stakeholders and management that company has disciplined approach to evaluate and improve effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processe. **TO WHICH COMPANIES SECRETARIAL AUDIT IS MANDATORY** As per section 204 of the Companies Act, 2013 read with Companies (Appointment and Remuneration of Managerial Personnel) Rules, 2014, following companies are required to obtain ‘Secretarial Audit Report’ form independent practicing company secretary; (1) Every listed company (2) Every public company having a paid-up share capital of Fifty Crore rupees or more; or (3) (b) Every public company having a turnover of Two Hundred Fifty Crore rupees or more. “Turnover” means the aggregate value of the realisation of amount made from the sale, supply or distribution of goods or on account of services rendered, or both, by the company during a financial year. [Section 2(91)] Secretarial Audit is also mandatory to a private company which is a subsidiary of a public company, and which falls under the prescribed class of companies. **SCOPE OF SECRETARIAL AUDIT** A secretarial auditor has to check compliances by the company under the following laws and rules made there-under; i. The Companies Act, 2013 (the Act) and the rules made there-under; ii. The Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 (‘SCRA’) and the rules made there-under; iii. The Depositories Act, 1996 and the Regulations and Bye-laws framed there-under; iv. Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 and the rules and regulations made there-under to the extent of Foreign Direct Investment, Overseas Direct Investment and External Commercial Borrowings; v. The following Regulations and Guidelines prescribed under the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 (‘SEBI Act’):- a. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011; b. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 1992; c. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2009; d. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Employee Stock Option Scheme and Employee Stock Purchase Scheme) Guidelines, 1999; e. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Issue and Listing of Debt Securities) Regulations, 2008; f. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Registrars to an Issue and Share Transfer Agents) Regulations, 1993 regarding the Companies Act and dealing with client; g. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Delisting of Equity Shares) Regulations, 2009; and h. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Buyback of Securities) Regulations, 1998; vi. Secretarial Standards issued by The Institute of Company Secretaries of India. vii. The Listing Agreements entered into by the Company with Stock Exchange(s), if applicable; viii. Other laws as may be applicable specifically to the company Thus the scope of Secretarial audit is not limited to the corporate laws applicable to company but it extent to all laws applicable to Company. Recently Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) has issued a FAQ on Secretarial Audit and has clarified “Other Laws”, the text of the same is reproduced as below: The Council of the ICSI at its 226th meeting held on November 21, 2014 decided on the Scope of Secretarial Audit as regards “point (vi) …….( other laws as may be applicable specifically to the company)”, which is placed as under: Reporting on compliance of ‘Other laws as may be applicable specifically to the company’ shall include all the laws which are applicable to specific industry for example; for Banks- all laws applicable to Banking Industry; for insurance company-all laws applicable to insurance industry; likewise for a company in petroleum sector- all laws applicable to petroleum industry; similarly for companies in pharmaceutical sector, cement industry etc. Examining and reporting whether the adequate systems and processes are in place to monitor and ensure compliance with general laws like labour laws, competition law, environmental laws etc.