News By/Courtesy: Hiranshi Shah | 05 Aug 2018 7:31am IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Any campaign against corruption can become effective only when there is a basic change in the mindset of the government in favour of greater transparency and accountability
  • Problems such as decriminalization of the Companies Act, the introduction of electoral bonds, weakening the RTI Act, non-implementation of the Lokpal Act and Whistleblowers Protection Act
  • Finance Act, 2017 had surreptitiously removed the limits on political donations which had prescribed under Section 182 of the Companies Act and also introduced the use of electoral bonds

Justice A P Shah, former Chairman of the Law Commission of India had appealed to Mr.  Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, for abstaining from diluting various laws such as Companies Act, 2013 and RTI Act, 2005. He had in his capacity as chairman of Citizens Whistle Blowers Forum wrote to the PM that “any campaign against corruption can become effective only when there is a basic change in the mindset of the government in favour of greater transparency and accountability through civil society participation at all levels of decision making, devolution of authority and decentralisation of governance.” He had pointed out the problems such as decriminalization of the Companies Act, the introduction of electoral bonds, weakening the RTI Act, non-implementation of the Lokpal Act and Whistleblowers Protection Act. With regard to decriminalisation of the Companies Act, 2013, he said that it had “promised to usher in a new era in corporate governance” and referred the various cases such as Satyam case, Kingfisher Airlines and United Spirits (Vijay Mallya Group), Nirav Modi, and Fortis Healthcare which had led to the need for strict compliance of the Act. He  had aforementioned that Section 447 of the Act deal with cases of fraud and the Section 164 of the Companies Act dealing with the disqualification for the appointment of directors whereby “disqualification is limited to conviction by a court of any offense involving moral turpitude or for any offense under the Companies Act only.”

He had written that Ministry of corporate affairs through a notification on 13th July 2018 formed a committee to review the punishment prescribed for various offenses under the Companies Act, 2013 and the panel has to submit its recommendations within 30 days. The committee is the one that will recommend whether the compoundable offense will be treated as a “civil offense” or not.  He had suggested that Ministry of Corporate Affairs should put on hold the proposed hasty decriminalization of the Companies Act, 2013 and instead hold extensive public deliberations which will including the consideration of the recommendations for further strengthening of the Act in the larger public interest.  He has pointed out another concern related with Whistle-blowers Act, RTI Act, and Lokpal that all acts had proposed to be diluted through various amendments and these amendments severely weaken the legislation which was intended to bring in more transparency such as amendment in the Right to Information Act by “empowering the central and state governments to decide the salaries and tenures of information commissioners”. He had pointed out that earlier, the Rule 12 of the proposed RTI Rules of 2017 suggested that “the proceedings pending before the Commission shall abate on the death of the appellant”. For this, he had written that, in a country where RTI applicants are often harassed and even killed, “such provision provides a perverse incentive to vested interests to silence the information seeker”.

Further regarded that he had suggested that, there was needed for the immediate appointment of Lokpal and operationalization of the Whistle Blowers Act. He had written with respect to political donations that "the Finance Act, 2017 had surreptitiously removed the limits on political donations which had prescribed under Section 182 of the Companies Act and also introduced the use of electoral bonds, which had exempted from disclosure under the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951".

Section Editor: Shilpa Rani | 07 Aug 2018 7:31am IST


Tags : #JusticeAPShah #DilutionLaws #PMModi #Committee #Offenses #AppealtoAbstain

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