Secretarial Audit Services

The secretarial audit is introduced by the Companies Act 2013. The process of verifying the company compliance under company law and other laws, rules, regulations, procedures, etc. It is a mechanism for monitoring compliance with legal and process requirements. A periodic review of the work is necessary to highlight errors and mistakes and to create a robust compliance mechanism system in an organization.

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Every company must comply with hundreds of laws, rules, and regulations. These laws are complicated, non-compliances would entail risks for the company. Periodic inspection of company records provides accurate information whether, and if so, to what extent the company has complied with laws applicable to the company.

The secretarial audit reassures regulators, stakeholders, and management that the company has a disciplined approach to assess and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes.

The legal framework governing the secretary audit under the companies act

  1. Section 204 of the Companies Act 2013; and
  2. Rule 9 of the Companies Regulation (appointment and remuneration of management staff), 2014

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Key updates

Applicability of the Secretary audit

Section 204 (1) of the Companies Act 2013 (“2013 Act”) read together with rule 9 of the Companies Rules 2014 (appointment and remuneration of management staff) states that:

1. Any company listed on the stock exchange;

2. Any public enterprise with a paid-up share capital of fifty crore rupees or more; or

3. Any public enterprise with a turnover of two hundred and fifty crore rupees or more

shall be attached to the report of its board of directors drawn up following subsection (3) of Article 134, a secretarial audit report, presented by a secretary-general in practice, on form MR-3.

Applicability of the audit on a Reputed Public company

According to the provisions of section 2 (71) of the law of 2013, “public company” means a company which:

(a) not a private company and;

(b) has a minimum paid-up share capital of five lakh rupees or higher paid-up capital, as may be prescribed.

Private Enterprises under the scope

The reservation of the above definition provides that “a company which is a subsidiary of a company, which is not a private company, is deemed to be a public company for this law, even if this subsidiary continues to be a private company in its statutes.

The wording used in the above caveat makes it clear that section 204 is also applicable to a private company which is a subsidiary of a public company, provided that such company falls within the prescribed category of companies mentioned above.

Limited liability companies will soon have to do a secretarial audit if the public interest to them is significant, as defined by their exposure to debt.

Although private companies do not raise funds from the public in terms of equity, exposure to financial institutions and banks makes them lead players in the system, therefore increased oversight, as the government wants.

Experts said the decision to extend secretarial auditing to limited liability companies improve compliance. Also, it will help highlight compliance issues that the commissioner who conducts the financial audit of companies does not report.