Companies Bill - Class action suit: Big measures for small investors
Under Section 245 and 246 of the Bill, class-action suits may be filed by investors in a court of law if they believe that the affairs of the company are being conducted in a manner detrimental to the interest of the company and its shareholders. Enabling such class-action suits should, in the long-run, help improve the quality of financial reporting as well as the quality of corporate governance among firms.
The importance of the provision can be gauged by the experience of the Satyam fraud. Well over three years after the scandal broke; Indian investors are yet to get any significant compensation in the 8,000-crore fraud allegedly committed by the promoters of Satyam Computer Services. But some of their counterparts in the US, who owned American depositary receipts, have made the company commit to pay $125 million in settlement by taking recourse to the strong class-action framework.
Other provision in the Bill that has arguably ignited the biggest debate is the provision of mandatory spending on corporate social responsibility (CSR). The legislation, to be now introduced in the Rajya Sabha during the budget