Companies may no longer get away with mere statements of intent on corporate social responsibility. The parliamentary standing committee vetting the Companies Bill has asked the government to insert a clause which mandates that most companies "ensure" that at least 2% of their net profit is spent on such activities. The government had suggested that companies with profit of over Rs 5 crore or turnover of Rs 1,000 crore "shall make every endeavour" to spend the amount on a prescribed list of activities, including eradicating poverty, education, health or simply enhancing vocational skills.
But not satisfied with the provision, the panel headed by former finance minister Yashwant Sinha has suggested that it should not only be made mandatory but companies should be asked to undertake these activities in and around the area they operate, a move which is aimed at getting the mining and metals-related companies to work in the backward areas. It is unlikely that the government will accept the recommendation given the debate the suggestion had evoked earlier. While the bad news is that the committee has suggested that whole-time directors be responsible for lapses, there is some good news too. The panel has said that the government should not impose criminal liability for lapses such as delay in registering transfer of shares and failure to obtain director's identification number. "...technical defaults which are minor infractions of law should not carry criminal liability," the report tabled in Parliament on Monday said.
Source: Times of India
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