Experts CornerGaurav Pingle and Associates

The approval of Board of Directors and modes of obtaining such approval is one of the most critical aspects of corporate compliance management. The Companies Act, 2013 (“the Act”) provides for certain decisions to be taken by the Board of Directors in its meeting. The Act also provides for passing of resolution by circulation by the Board of Directors of the company.

According to Section 179 of the Act, the Board of Directors of a company shall be entitled to exercise all such powers, and to do all such acts and things, as the company is authorised to exercise and do. However, in exercising such power or doing such act or thing, the Board of Directors shall be subject to the provisions contained in that behalf in the Act, or in the memorandum of association or articles of association, including regulations made by the company in general meeting. Sub-section (3) of Section 179 of the Act provides for certain transactions or resolutions, wherein the Board of Directors of a company shall exercise by means of resolutions passed at Board meetings.

Section 175 of the Act relates to “passing of resolution by circulation”. This article analyses the provisions of Section 175 of the Act and provides for compliance checklist for passing of resolution by circulation. Necessary references are made to the secretarial standards issued by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).

  1. Meaning of “Circular Resolution”.—It is an alternative method of obtaining the approval of the Board of Directors. Section 175 of the Act creates an exception to the general rule that the Board of Directors of the company shall exercise their powers collectively by means of resolution passed at its meeting.
  2. Certain Resolutions that Cannot be Passed by Circulation.—Sub-section (3) of Section 179 of the Act and Rule 8 of the Companies (Meetings of Board and its Powers) Rules, 2014 provides for certain transactions or resolutions, wherein the Board of Directors shall exercise by means of resolutions passed in its meetings. Such transactions/resolutions are: (a) to make calls on shareholders in respect of money unpaid on their shares; (b) to authorise buy-back of securities; (c) to issue securities, including debentures, whether in or outside India; (d) to borrow monies; (e) to invest the funds of the company; (f) to grant loans or give guarantee or provide security in respect of loans; (g) to approve financial statement and the Board’s report; (h) to diversify the business of the company; (i) to approve amalgamation, merger or reconstruction; (j) to take over a company or acquire a controlling or substantial stake in another company; (k) to make political contributions; (l) to appoint or remove key managerial personnel; and (m) to appoint internal auditors and secretarial auditor. For companies incorporated under Section 8 of the Act, the board of directors may decide the following matters by circular resolution (instead of meeting): (a) to borrow monies; (b) to invest the funds of the company; (c) to grant loans or give guarantee or provide security in respect of loans. [MCA Notiifcation No. GSR 466 (E)] dated June 5, 2015].
  3. Resolutions that can be Passed by Circulation.—Any resolution other than the abovementioned resolutions can be passed by circulation by Board of Directors. The Act has not prescribed for list of transactions that can be approved by passing a circular resolution. However, the Company Secretary or Chairman of the company shall ensure the nature of resolution before proposing before the Board of Directors or Committee.
  4. Applicability.—The Board of Directors or any committee (e.g. Audit Committee, Nomination and Remuneration Committee, Corporate Social Responsibility Committee, etc.) can pass a resolution by circulation.
  5. Decision to Pass a Resolution by Circular or Not.—According to the Secretarial Standard 1, the Chairman of the Board or in his absence, Managing Director or in their absence, any director other than an interested director, shall decide whether the approval of the Board for a particular business shall be obtained by means of a resolution by circulation.
  6. Explanation of Business by Note.—According to the Secretarial Standard 1, each business proposed to be passed by way of resolution by circulation shall be explained by a note setting out the details of the proposal, relevant material facts that enable the directors to understand the meaning, scope and implications of the proposal, nature of concern or interest, if any, of any director in the proposal, which the director had earlier disclosed and the draft of the resolution proposed. The note shall also indicate how a director shall signify assent or dissent to the resolution proposed and the date by which the director shall respond.
  7. Serial Numbering of Circular Resolution.—Secretarial Standard 1 mandates serial numbering of every circular resolution.
  8. Modes of Sending Necessary Documents.—The draft resolution together with necessary papers, if any, to all the directors, or members of the committee, as the case may be, shall be sent at their addresses registered with the company. The said documents can be sent by hand delivery or by post or by courier, or through such electronic means as may be prescribed [Section 175(1) of the Act]. A resolution in draft form may be circulated to the directors together with the necessary papers for seeking their approval, by electronic means which may include e-mail or fax [Rule 5 of the Companies (Meetings of Board and its Powers) Rules, 2014].
  9. Time-Limit for Approval.—The Act has not prescribed the time-limit for providing the approval of directors or committee members. However, according to the secretarial standards, not more than 7 days from the date of circulation of the draft of the resolution shall be given to the directors to respond. Additional 2 days may be provided, where the resolution and documents have been sent by the company by speed post or by registered post or by courier. However, in certain cases, the articles of association of the company may provide for such time-limits.
  10. Approval.—The?circular resolution shall be approved by a majority of the directors or committee members, who are entitled to vote on the resolution. After the time-limit is over, it is desirable that the outcome of resolution is communicated to the directors (i.e. whether the resolution is passed or not).
  11. Voting by Interested Director.— Section 175 of the Act does not provide for any reference to a situation wherein a director is interested in a circular resolution. However, according to the Secretarial Standard 1, an interested director shall not be entitled to vote on such resolutions.
  12. Recording the Resolution in Minutes of Meeting.—Where a resolution is passed by circulation, the same shall be noted in the minutes of the subsequent meeting of the Board of Directors. As a good corporate secretarial practice, it is desirable that following points are included in the minutes of the meeting: (i) date of circulation of draft resolution and papers; (ii) cut-off date for receiving the decision of directors; (iii) names of directors giving assent/dissent or abstain from voting; (iv) names of directors, if interested in the resolution; and (v) decision –whether the resolution is passed or not.
  13. Validity of Resolution by Circulation.—According to the secretarial standards, the passing of resolution by circulation shall be considered valid as if it had been passed at duly convened meeting of the Board of Directors. However, the said compliance shall not dispense with the requirement for the Board to meet at the specified frequency as prescribed under Section 173 of the Act.
  14. Discussion at Meeting, in Exceptional Cases.—In certain cases, where not less than one-third of the total number of directors of the company for the time-being require that any resolution under circulation must be decided at a meeting, the Chairperson shall put the resolution to be decided at a meeting of the Board. As a good corporate secretarial practice, such decision taken by the directors is noted in the minutes of the subsequent board meeting.
  15. Maintenance of Certain Documents.—The Company Secretary or the Chairman may maintain records of communication received from directors of company (i.e. with respect to assent/dissent or abstain from voting).

Generally, important matters are discussed at the meetings of Board of Directors and accordingly resolutions are passed. A resolution by circulation is passed when such approval is urgent in nature and cannot be kept on hold for passing such resolution in the ensuing Board meeting. Sometimes such matters are discussed in the earlier Board meetings but a resolution to that effect is not passed. Such decisions may include extension of lease agreement, opening bank account, changing signatories of the bank account, appointing consultants, etc. The passing of circular resolution and maintenance of corporate secretarial documents in relation to the resolution is important from the perspective of secretarial audit process, statutory audit process, internal audit process and issuance of certificate by practising Company Secretary under Section 92(2) of the Act.


*Gaurav N Pingle, Practising Company Secretary, Pune. He can be reached at gp@csgauravpingle.com.

Experts CornerGaurav Pingle and Associates

The provision relating to “related party transactions” have been incorporated for the first time in the Indian Company Law. The provisions are prescribed in Section 188 of the Companies Act, 2013 (Act). Under the Companies Act, 1956, there was no explicit provision as “related party transaction”, however, it can be said that Section 297 of the Companies Act, 1956 slightly corresponds to Section 188 of the Act. The scope and nature of transactions, number of related parties involved, compliances and disclosure requirements contemplated have significantly been enhanced under the provisions of Section 188 of the Act.

This article is a compilation and analysis of the relevant provisions relating to related party transactions. The article also contains the checklist on ensuring compliance of relevant provisions relating to related party transactions.

Following is the basic checklist for identifying the applicability of Section 188 of the Act:

(1) Transactions with company— It is necessary that a company is a party to the said transactions. The company can either provide or avail the necessary services or the company can sell or purchase or supply of any goods or materials.

(2) Identification of prescribed transaction— It is necessary that the company enters into a prescribed transaction [as provided in sub-section (1) of Section 188 of the Act], which includes: (i) sale, purchase or supply of any goods or materials; (ii) selling or otherwise disposing of, or buying, property of any kind; (iii) leasing of property of any kind; (iv) availing or rendering of any services; (v) appointment of any agent for purchase or sale of goods, materials, services  or property; (vi) such related party’s appointment to any office or place of profit in the company, its subsidiary company or associate company; and (vii) underwriting the subscription of any securities or derivatives thereof, of the company.

(3) Identification of prescribed “related party”— It is necessary that the company enters into a prescribed transaction with a “related party” [as provided in sub-section (76) of Section 2 of the Act]. Some of the related parties are: director, relative of director, key managerial personnel, relative of key managerial personnel, firm in which director or director’s relative is a partner, private company or public company in which director or manager is interested [as prescribed in Section 2(76) of the Act], subsidiary company, holding company, associate company, investing company, venturer company (as defined).

If all the three conditions are satisfied, then it is necessary to proceed with the approvals, compliances and disclosures under the provisions of Section 188 of the Act. The checklist for the identified related party transactions is as follows:

(1) Approval of Audit Committee (under Section 177 of the Act)— The Audit Committee shall approve the related party transactions or approve any modification to the related party transactions. The Audit Committee can also give an omnibus approval to certain related party transactions. The Committee shall consider two factors while specifying the criteria for making omnibus approval, namely, (i) repetitiveness of the transactions (in part or in future); and (ii) justification for the need of omnibus approval. Such omnibus approval for the related party transactions shall be obtained on annual basis [Rule 6-A of the Companies (Meetings of Board and its Powers) Rules, 2014]. Such omnibus approval shall be valid for a period not exceeding 1 financial year and shall require fresh approval after expiry of such financial year. Omnibus approval shall not be made for transactions in respect of selling or disposing of the undertaking of the company.

(2) Approval of the Board of Directors (under Section 188 of the Act)— The Board of Directors shall give consent to the related party transactions at its meeting only. Such meeting can be held in person or through video conferencing or other audio-visual means as may be prescribed. Such consent of the Board of Directors cannot be obtained by passing a circular resolution or by any other mode (as prescribed in Section 175 of the Act). Rule 15 of the Companies (Meetings of Board and its Powers) Rules, 2014 provides for the requisite disclosures to the Board of Directors in agenda of the meeting at which the resolution is proposed to be moved. The director interested in any contract or arrangement shall not be present at the meeting during discussion on such subject- matter of the resolution relating to such contract or arrangement.

(3) Approval of the shareholders (under Section 188 of the Act)— Prior approval of the shareholders by ordinary resolution shall be required if the company is entering into a contract or arrangement with a related party if the transaction(s) exceeds the prescribed limits [i.e. as prescribed in Rule 15(3) of the Companies (Meetings of Board and its Powers) Rules, 2014]. The said rule has prescribed monetary threshold for each type of prescribed transaction. The limits specified shall apply for transaction(s) to be entered into either individually or taken together with the previous transactions during a financial year. The said rule provides for the disclosures in the explanatory statement to be annexed to the notice of general meeting. Following are some important points relating to approval of shareholders:

  (i) Member of the company shall not vote on the ordinary resolution approving related party transaction if such member is a related party (this provision is not applicable to private companies. MCA Notification dated 5-6-2015).

  (ii) Approval of the shareholder is not applicable in the cases where 90% or more members (in number) are the relatives of promoters or are related parties (applicable to private company and public company, both).

  (iii) In case of wholly-owned subsidiary company, the ordinary resolution passed by the holding company shall be sufficient for the purpose of entering into the transactions between the wholly-owned subsidiary company and the holding company, subject to the condition that the accounts of the subsidiary company are consolidated with holding company and placed before shareholders at the general meeting for its approval.

  (iv) Certain exemptions are applicable to government company (MCA Notification dated 5-6-2015).

(4)Exemption from the compliances of Section 188 of the Act— Consent of the Board of Directors and prior approval of the shareholders is not required when such related party transaction is in the ordinary course of its business and on arm’s length basis. The Act has not defined “ordinary course of its business”. For this purpose the Board of Directors is required to exercise their judgment. However, the Act has defined transaction on arm’s length basis. It means a transaction between two related parties that is conducted as if they were unrelated so that there is no conflict of interest. There is no exemption for obtaining the approval of the Audit Committee.

(5)Disclosures in Board’s report— Every contract or arrangement entered into by the company shall be referred to in the Board’s report to the shareholders along with the justification for entering into such contract or arrangement [Section 188(2) of the Act]. Pursuant to Section 134(3) of the Act, the Board’s report shall include particulars of contracts or arrangements with related parties in prescribed form (Form AOC-2).

(6)Register of contracts or arrangements in which directors are interested— According to Section 189 of the Act, the company shall maintain a register (Form MBP-4) for related party transactions. After entering the particulars in the register, such register shall be placed before the next Board meeting and signed by all directors present at the meeting. The entries in the register shall be made at once, whenever there is a cause to make entry, in chronological order and shall be authenticated by the Company Secretary of the company or by any other person authorised by the Board for the purpose. Such register shall be kept at the registered office of the company. The register shall be preserved permanently and shall be kept in the custody of the Company Secretary of the company or any other person authorised by the Board for the purpose.

(7)Other important checkpoints— Section 188 (3) of the Act provides for ratification of the related party transaction entered into by a director or any other employee without consent of the Board of Director or approval of shareholders in general meeting. Ministry of Corporate Affairs (by its Circular dated 17-7-2014) has exempted companies from the compliance of Section 188 of the Act, arising out of compromises, arrangements and amalgamations dealt under the specific provisions of the Companies Act.

The provisions relating to related party transactions are one of the most amended provisions under the Act. In my view, “related party transactions” is one of the critical tests of corporate governance. The above checklist relates to related party transactions by private companies or unlisted public companies. In case of listed companies, the provisions of Section 188 of the Act and Regulation 23 of Securities and Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015, both shall be complied with.


* Gaurav N Pingle, Practising Company Secretary, Pune. He can be reached at gp@csgauravpingle.com.

Experts CornerGaurav Pingle and Associates

Section 186 of the Companies Act, 2013 (“the Act”) relates to “loan and investment by company”. It provides for monetary threshold, approval matrix, recordkeeping, exemption from compliances, restrictions for giving loan, guarantee, security or making investment in another entity. The other relevant provisions are Rules made under Section 186 of the Act, Section 179 (relating to “powers of the Board of Directors”), Section 185 (relating to “loans to Directors”), Section 187 (relating to “investments of company to be held in its own name”). This article is a compilation and analysis of the relevant provisions relating to giving loan, guarantee or security or making investment under Section 186 of the Act. The article also contains the checklist for maintenance of documents, records and register under Section 186 of the Act. The company shall ensure compliance of the following provisions:

(1) Monetary threshold for approval of the Board of Directors— A company (i.e. private company or public company) with the approval of the Board of the Directors can directly or indirectly: (i) give any loan to any person or other body corporate; (ii) give any guarantee or provide security in connection with a loan to any other body corporate or person; and (iii) acquire by way of subscription, purchase or otherwise, the securities of any other body corporate, up to 60% of its paid-up share capital, free reserves and securities premium account or 100% of its free reserves and securities premium account. In a company, the Accounts Department or Finance Committee or Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or Company Secretary (CS) shall monitor such limits on a regular basis.

(2) Exclusion from the said monetary limit—The word “person” does not include any individual who is in the employment of the company i.e. loan, guarantee or security provided by the company to its employees shall not be counted in the said limits. Therefore, loans, guarantee or security given by the company to its employees shall not be considered in the prescribed monetary limits.

(3) Monetary threshold for approval of the shareholders—Company shall not make any further investment, loan, guarantee or security unless it is previously authorised by a special resolution passed in a general meeting, if the aggregate of such investment, loan, guarantee or security made or given by the Board of Directors, exceed the prescribed limits (as discussed above). The special resolution passed at a general meeting shall specify the total amount up to which the Board of Directors is authorised to give such loan or guarantee, to provide such security or make such acquisition. The company shall obtain the prior approval of shareholders and the resolution shall specify further monetary limit i.e. the resolution cannot be an open-ended resolution.

(4) Exemption from the approval of shareholders—The previous approval of the shareholders by special resolution shall not be required where a loan or guarantee is given or where a security has been provided by a company to its wholly-owned subsidiary company or a joint venture company, or acquisition is made by a holding company, by way of subscription, purchase or otherwise of the securities of its wholly-owned subsidiary company. However, the company shall disclose the details of such loans or guarantee or security or acquisition in the financial statement.

(5) Disclosure in the financial statement—The company shall disclose to the members in the financial statement the full particulars of the loans given, investment made or guarantee given or security provided and the purpose for which the loan or guarantee or security is proposed to be utilised by the recipient of the loan or guarantee or security. Such disclosure can be part of Board’s report [Section 134(3)(g) of the Act] and notes to accounts.

(6) Mode of obtaining the approval of the Board of Directors—Investment, loan, guarantee or security shall be given by the company after the resolution sanctioning it is passed at a meeting of the Board with the consent of all the directors present at the meeting i.e. not by circular resolution. Pursuant to Section 179(3) of the Act, the Board of Directors of a company shall exercise the power to invest the funds of the company by means of resolutions passed at meetings of the Board of Directors. Such power can be delegated by the Board of Directors to any committee of directors, managing director, manager or any principal officer of the company or in the case of a branch office of the company, the principal officer of the branch office. Such delegation shall be made by passing a resolution at its meeting i.e. not by circular resolution.

(7) Prior approval of the public financial institution, in certain cases—The prior approval of the public financial institution is required where any term loan is subsisting and there is default in repayment of loan installments or payment of interest thereon as per the terms and conditions of such loan to the public financial institution. The prior approval of public financial institution is required when there is default in payment of loan or interest and not when the payment is made regular basis.

(8) Rate of interest of the loan—The loan shall not be given under Section 186 of the Act at a rate of interest lower than the prevailing yield of 1-year, 3-year, 5-year or 10-year government security closest to the tenor of the loan.

(9) Restriction on giving loan, guarantee or security—A company which has defaulted in the repayment of any deposits accepted or in payment of interest thereon, shall not give any loan or give any guarantee or provide any security or make an acquisition till such default is subsisting. Such prohibition is applicable company makes a default in payment of loan or interest on deposits.

(10) Loan, guarantee or security to directors or relatives of directors—Section 185 of the Act relates to “loans to directors”. A company (whether private company or public company) shall not advance any loan (including any loan represented by a book debt to) or give any guarantee or provide any security in connection with any loan taken by: (i) any director of company, or director of a company which is its holding company or any partner or relative of any such director; and (ii) any firm in which any such director or relative is a partner. Therefore, the company shall confirm the party and its relation with the directors before advancing any loan or giving any guarantee or providing any security in connection with any loan. In certain cases, the company shall ensure compliance of Sections 185 and 186 of the Act.

(11)?Maintenance of register— Every company giving loan or giving a guarantee or providing security or making an acquisition shall keep a register which shall contain such particulars and shall be maintained in such manner as may be prescribed. Following are some important points relating to maintenance of the register :

(i) The company shall, from the date of its incorporation, maintain a register in Form MBP 2 and enter therein separately, the particulars of loans and guarantees given, securities provided and acquisitions made.

(ii) The entries in the register shall be made chronologically in respect of each such transaction within 7 days of making such loan or giving guarantee or providing security or making acquisition.

(iii) The register shall be kept in the custody of the Company Secretary of the company or any other person authorised by the Board for the purpose.

(iv) The register can be maintained either manually or in electronic mode.

(v) The entries in the register (either manual or electronic) shall be authenticated by the Company Secretary of the company or by any other person authorised by the Board of Directors for the purpose.

(12) Inspection and extracts of the register—The register maintained under Section 186 of the Act shall be kept at the registered office of the company. Such register shall be open to inspection at such office. The extracts of the register may be taken therefrom by any member, and copies thereof may be furnished to any member of the company on payment of such fees.

(13) Non-applicability of the provisions—The provisions of Section 186 of the Act (except the provisions relating to layers of investment companies) shall not apply: (i) to any loan made, any guarantee given or any security provided or any investment made by a banking company, or an insurance company, or a housing finance company in the ordinary course of its business, or a company established with the object of and engaged in the business of financing industrial enterprises, or of providing infrastructural facilities; (ii) to any investment made by an investment company, investment made in shares allotted in pursuance of rights issues; and  (iii) to any investment made in respect of investment or lending activities, by Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC) registered the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Act and whose principal business is acquisition of securities.


Gaurav N Pingle, Practising Company Secretary, Pune. He can be reached at gp@csgauravpingle.com