Meaning of Independent Directors and their Meeting thereof as per Companies Act, 2013

Independent Director help in bringing Independent judgement and act as a bridge between management and shareholders by encouraging the principles of Corporate Governance through providing transparency, accountability and disclosures in the working of the Company and assist the Company in implementing the best corporate governance practices.

Who can be called Independent Director:

Section 2(47) “independent director” means an independent director referred to in sub-section (6) of section 149;

Section 149(6) :- An independent director in relation to a company, means a director other than a managing director or a whole-time director or a nominee director, —

(a) who, in the opinion of the Board, is a person of integrity and possesses relevant expertise and experience;

(b) (i) who is or was not a promoter of the company or its holding, subsidiary or associate company;

(ii) who is not related to promoters or directors in the company, its holding, subsidiary or associate company;

(c) who has or had no pecuniary relationship, other than remuneration as such director or having transaction not exceeding ten per cent of his total income or such amount as may be prescribed, with the company, its holding, subsidiary or associate company, or their promoters, or directors, during the two immediately preceding financial years or during the current financial year;

(d) none of whose relatives

(i) is holding any security of or interest in the company, its holding, subsidiary or associate company during the two immediately preceding financial years or during the current financial year:

Provided that the relative may hold security or interest in the company of face value not exceeding fifty lakh rupees or two per cent of the paid-up capital of the company, its holding, subsidiary or associate company or such higher sum as may be prescribed;

(ii) is indebted to the company, its holding, subsidiary or associate company or their promoters, or directors, in excess of such amount as may be prescribed during the two immediately preceding financial years or during the current financial year;

(iii) has given a guarantee or provided any security in connection with the indebtedness of any third person to the company, its holding, subsidiary or associate company or their promoters, or directors of such holding company, for such amount as may be prescribed during the two immediately preceding financial years or during the current financial year; or

(iv) has any other pecuniary transaction or relationship with the company, or its subsidiary, or its holding or associate company amounting to two per cent or more of its gross turnover or total income singly or in combination with the transactions referred to in sub-clause (i), (ii) or (iii);]

(e) who, neither himself nor any of his relatives

(i) holds or has held the position of a key managerial personnel or is or has been employee of the company or its holding, subsidiary or associate company in any of the three financial years immediately preceding the financial year in which he is proposed to be appointed;

Provided that in case of a relative who is an employee, the restriction under this clause shall not apply for his employment during preceding three financial years.

(ii) is or has been an employee or proprietor or a partner, in any of the three financial years immediately preceding the financial year in which he is proposed to be appointed, of:

(A) a firm of auditors or company secretaries in practice or cost auditors of the company or its holding, subsidiary or associate company; or

(B) any legal or a consulting firm that has or had any transaction with the company, its holding, subsidiary or associate company amounting to ten per cent or more of the gross turnover of such firm;

(iii) holds together with his relatives two per cent or more of the total voting power of the company; or

(iv) is a Chief Executive or director, by whatever name called, of any nonprofit organization that receives twenty-five per cent or more of its receipts from the company, any of its promoters, directors or its holding, subsidiary or associate company or that holds two per cent. or more of the total voting power of the company; or

(f) who possesses such other qualifications as may be prescribed.

Which Companies required to appoint Independent Directors: –

Every listed public company shall have at least one-third of the total number of directors as independent directors.

The following class or classes of companies shall have at least two directors as independent directors –

(i) the Public Companies having paid up share capital of 10 cr rupees or more: or

(ii) the Public Companies having turnover of 100 cr rupees or more; or

(iii) the Public Companies which have, in aggregate, outstanding loans, debentures and deposits, exceeding 50 cr rupees:

Provided that in case a company covered under this rule is required to appoint a higher number of independent directors due to composition of its audit committee, such higher number of independent directors shall be applicable to it:

Provided further that any intermittent vacancy of an independent director shall be filled-up by the Board at the earliest but not later than immediate next Board meeting or three months from the date of such vacancy, whichever is later:

Provided also that where a company ceases to fulfil any of three conditions laid down in sub-rule (1) for three consecutive years, it shall not be required to comply with these provisions until such time as it meets any of such conditions.

Provided that a company belonging to any class of companies for which a higher number of independent directors has been specified in the law for the time being in force shall comply with the requirements specified in such law.

Meeting of Independent Directors

Separate meetings:

(1) The independent directors of the company shall hold at least one meeting in a financial year, without the attendance of non-independent directors and members of management;

(2) All the independent directors of the company shall strive to be present at such meeting;

(3) The meeting shall:

(a) review the performance of non-independent directors and the Board as a whole;

(b) review the performance of the Chairperson of the company, taking into account the views of executive directors and non-executive directors;

(c) assess the quality, quantity and timeliness of flow of information between the company management and the Board that is necessary for the Board to effectively and reasonably perform their duties.

Thus, the Companies Act, 2013 aims at making transparency and making sure that all the decisions and activities of the company are taken in good faith and in the benefit of shareholders at large. Hence the Independent Directors are appointed to ensure that the company is complies Corporate Governance and Ethical Standards.

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