CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
CSR is a concept whereby companies not only consider their profitability and growth, but also the interest of society and the environment by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on stakeholders, environment, consumers, employees, communities, and all other members in the public sphere. The basic premise is that when the corporation get bigger in size, apart from economic responsibility of earning profits, there are many other responsibilities attached to them which are more of non-financial/social in nature. These are the expectations of the society from the corporates to give something in return to the society with which explicit or implicit help these entities stand where they are.
CSR aims to fulfill expectations that society has of businesses and it is viewed as a comprehensive set of social policies, practices and programs that are integrated throughout business operations. The concept of CSR has evolved over the years and now used as strategy and a business opportunity to earn stakeholder goodwill.
CSR LEGAL ASPECTS
COMPANIES ACT, 2013
Companies Act, 2013 is a legislation which officially embarked on one of the world’s largest experiments of introducing the concept of CSR as a mandatory provision. The inclusion of CSR is an attempt by the government to engage the businesses with the national development agenda. With the introduction of new Act, there is a statutory obligation for the corporates to take initiatives towards Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities.
DEFINITION OF CSR
Rule 2(1)(c) “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)” means and includes but is not limited to:-
(i) Projects or programs relating to activities [areas or subjects] specified in Schedule VII to the Act; or
(ii) Projects or programs relating to activities undertaken by the board of directors of a company (Board) in pursuance of recommendations of the CSR Committee of the Board as per declared CSR Policy of the company subject to the condition that such policy will [include activities, areas or subjects] specified in Schedule VII of the Act.
Activities which may be included by companies in their Corporate Social Responsibility Policies Activities relating to:—
(i) Eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition, promoting health care including preventinve health care and sanitation including contribution to the Swach Bharat Kosh set-up by the Central Government for the promotion of sanitation and making available safe drinking water.
(ii) promoting education, including special education and employment enhancing vocation skills especially among children, women, elderly and the differently abled and livelihood enhancement projects.
(iii) promoting gender equality, empowering women, setting up homes and hostels for women and orphans; setting up old age homes, day care centres and such other facilities for senior citizens and measures for reducing inequalities faced by socially and economically backward groups.
(iv) ensuring environmental sustainability, ecological balance, protection of flora and fauna, animal welfare, agroforestry, conservation of natural resources and maintaining quality of soil, air and water 4[including contribution to the Clean Ganga Fund set-up by the Central Government for rejuvenation of river Ganga].
(v) protection of national heritage, art and culture including restoration of buildings and sites of historical importance and works of art; setting up public libraries; promotion and development of traditional art and handicrafts;
(vi) measures for the benefit of armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents;
(vii) training to promote rural sports, nationally recognized sports, paralympic sports and olympic sports
(viii) contribution to the prime minister’s national relief fund or any other fund set up by the central govt. for socio economic development and relief and welfare of the schedule caste, tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women;
(ix) Contribution to incubators funded by Central Government or State Government or any agency or Public Sector Undertaking of Central Government or State Government, and contributions to public funded Universities, Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), National Laboratories and Autonomous Bodies (established under the auspices of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) engaged in conducting research in science, technology, engineering and medicine aimed at promoting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
(x) rural development projects.
(xi) slum area development.
Explanation.- For the purposes of this item, the term `slum area’ shall mean any area declared as such by the Central Government or any State Government or any other competent authority under any law for the time being in force.
(xii) disaster management, including relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities.
APPLICABILITY (As per Section 135 of Companies Act, 2013)
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY COMMITTEE
Every such company mentioned above is required to constitute a CSR Committee of the Board consisting of 3 or more directors with at least one Independent Director.
The Board such of every company shall ensure that the company spends, in every financial year, at least two per cent. of the average net profits of the company made during the three immediately preceding financial years or where the company has not completed the period of three financial years since its incorporation, during such immediately preceding financial years], in pursuance of its Corporate Social Responsibility Policy:
Provided that the company shall give preference to the local area and areas around it where it operates, for spending the amount earmarked for Corporate Social Responsibility activities:
Provided further that if the company fails to spend such amount, the Board shall, in its report made under Section 134 of Companies Act, 2013 specify the reasons for not spending the amount and, unless the unspent amount relates to any ongoing project, transfer such unspent amount to a Fund specified in Schedule VII, within a period of six months of the expiry of the financial year.
The company shall be punishable with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to twenty-five lakh rupees and every officer of such company who is in default shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which shall not be less than fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to five lakh rupees, or with both.