Last Updated : Jul 09, 2015 08:11 AM IST | Source: PTI

Sebi asks govt to appoint women directors on PSU boards

All listed companies, whether PSUs or from private sector, are required to have at least one woman director on their board, deadline for which expired on March 31, 2015.

To ensure parity between listed PSUs and their private sector peers, regulator Sebi has asked the government to fill all vacancies for women and independent directors at the central public sector enterprises.

All listed companies, whether PSUs or from private sector, are required to have at least one woman director on their board, deadline for which expired on March 31, 2015.

Along with many private sector companies, quite a few PSUs also failed to meet the deadline and they are liable to pay penalties, which would be minimum at Rs 50,000 for those who ensured compliance by June 30.

The stock exchanges are soon expected to make public the names of the entities who have been penalised in this regard.

The penalties would increase further for the companies which remain in default for longer period. The Sebi rules also require all listed companies to have at least one-third members of their respective boards to be independent directors.

The new Companies Act also has these provisions for at least one woman director and a minimum one-third independent directors. The issue of non-compliance by the CPSEs on these matters was discussed by the Sebi board in its last meeting.

According to a board memorandum, Sebi took up the matter with the Cabinet Secretary last month regarding filling up the posts of independent directors or appointing a woman director at the CPSEs.

Sebi is of the view that there should not be any exemptions for PSUs when it comes to compliance to norms for listed companies. Earlier, PSUs were given extra time to meet a requirement of minimum 25 percent public shareholding, from 10 percent earlier, but eventually the rules were brought at par with their private sector peers.

After the board meeting last month, Sebi's Whole-Time Member S Raman had also said that the new regime for every listed company to have at least one woman director came into effect from April 1 and the companies that failed to comply will face penal action.

On another proposal for allowing more companies to tap the fast-track issuance of shares through follow-up offers or rights issues, Sebi said its Primary Markets Advisory Committee had recommended exemptions from the applicability of conditions for such fast-track issuances for CPSEs.

However, the regulator decided against such exemptions on the ground that "the rules for the market should be uniform across all companies whether in private or public sector". "Sebi should be seen to be treating all kinds of issuers or promoters uniformly when dealing with an issue.

The Government of India has shown its willingness to be treated uniformly by amending the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Rules, 1957 to increase the minimum public shareholding from 10 percent to 25 percent to be at par with other issuers or promoters," the regulator said in the board memorandum.

In response to Sebi's draft guidelines in this regard, the regulator said that respondents had said the rules should be promoter-neutral and hence no carve-out should be there for CPSEs.

First Published on Jul 9, 2015 08:10 am
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