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Liability of Independent Directors – An Important Aspect of Corporate Governance

Liability of Independent Directors – An Important Aspect of Corporate Governance

By MMB Admin
Calendar

Aug 20 th 2022

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Neutrality and professional repute can give a board a new paradigm of thinking through an ‘independent director’. The Board of any company is primarily responsible for shaping the future of the company along with exhibiting diverse actions and perspectives which are in the best interest of the stakeholders of the company.

However, to balance larger interests of the company, many times, independent directors are inducted to provide objectivity to the issues discussed by the board and get an unbiased opinion on the same. The independent directors are certainly a part of the board but are completely disconnected from the daily affairs of the Company. This gives rise to the question of extent of the liability of independent director for collective actions of the board. It is important to note that courts have now distinguished “connivance” from consent that it does not require the parties to be of one-mind. In Chintalapati Srinivasa Raju Vs Securities and Exchange Board of India, the Apex Court recognised the role of independent directors, holding they are not responsible for the conduct of the business of the company. Therefore, there is a window for caveat in legal principal to make an independent director under the exemption from vicarious liability exist.

Further, the Supreme Court in Sunil Bharti Mittal Vs Central Bureau of Investigation had elucidated that the principle of alter ego can only be applied to make a company liable for acts of a person or a group of persons who exercise significant and pervasive control over the affairs of the company. It was further noted that directors of the company can be held responsible for the wrong done by the company only where there is sufficient evidence to prove an active role and a criminal intent or if the relevant statute has specifically imposed liability on them, such as labour and environmental law statutes. Vicarious liability cannot be imposed on any director in the absence of a legislative mandate. The Companies Act, 2013 clearly provides certain protective measures for independent directors which indicate that an independent director can only be held liable in respect of such acts of omission or commission by a company which had occurred with his knowledge, attributable through Board processes, and with his consent or connivance or where he had not acted diligently. The Court has quashed the criminal proceedings against the independent non-executive directors and has ordered an expedited trial against the rest of the executives.

According to the Companies Act, 2013, following are some of the important duties of independent directors:

  1. undertake appropriate induction and regularly update and refresh their skills, knowledge and familiarity with the company;
  2. seek appropriate clarification or amplification of information and, where necessary, take and follow appropriate professional advice and opinion of outside experts at the expense of the company;
  3. strive to attend all meetings of the Board of Directors and of the Board committees of which he is a member;
  4. participate constructively and actively in the committees of the Board in which they are chairpersons or members;
  5. strive to attend the general meetings of the company;
  6. where they have concerns about the running of the company or a proposed action, ensure that these are addressed by the Board and, to the extent that they are not resolved, insist that their concerns are recorded in the minutes of the Board meeting;
  7. keep themselves well informed about the company and the external environment in which it operates;
  8. not to unfairly obstruct the functioning of an otherwise proper Board or committee of the Board;
  9. pay sufficient attention and ensure that adequate deliberations are held before approving related party transactions and assure themselves that the same are in the interest of the company;
  10. ascertain and ensure that the company has an adequate and functional vigil mechanism and to ensure that the interests of a person who uses such mechanism are not prejudicially affected on account of such use;
  11. report concerns about unethical behaviour, actual or suspected fraud or violation of the company's code of conduct or ethics policy;
  12. act within their authority, assist in protecting the legitimate interests of the company, shareholders and its employees;
  13. not disclose confidential information, including commercial secrets, technologies, advertising and sales promotion plans, unpublished price sensitive information, unless such disclosure is expressly approved by the Board or required by law.

How Can MentorMyBoard help you?

MentorMyBoard is on a mission to set up effective and efficient Boards in India with great Board members. With an expert team of mentors, MentorMyBoard can organizations in the following manner:

a.      Help in identification of appropriate persons fit to be independent directors on their boards;

b.     Conduct personalized handholding and mentoring sessions to develop and nurture essential skillsets required to become an independent director;

c.      Conduct suitable training programs on practical aspects of the boardroom;

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Category

  • All
  • Boardrooms
  • BOARDROOMS
  • Independent Directors
  • Role of Board
  • Mindset Shifts of Boards
  • Independent Directors and Promoters
  • Sustainability / ESG
  • business implication
  • employee exits
  • COMMITTEE MEETINGS
  • Union Budget
  • Independent Director
  • Grow with Governance
  • Grow with Governance
  • INDEPENDENT DIRECTOR
  • Entrepreneurial Board
  • ESG & ITS IMPORTANCE
  • leadership coaching
  • Change Management
  • Advisory Boards
  • Boards
  • Boardroom
  • Brand Yourself as a Leader of the Company
  • Kindness
  • Are you hesitant to speak in the Boardroom!
  • Governance & ESG
  • Directors
  • Independent Directors
  • Corporate Governance
  • Leader development
  • Gratitude, Purpose
  • decision making
  • Systematic Investment Plans in Emotional Intelligence
  • Corporate Governance
  • The Board’s Role in ESG!
  • Balance Boards
  • Agility and Compassion
  • Governance and Board
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Directors,Promoter Directors
  • Board Members, Directors and Independent Directors
  • Board and Senior Management
  • New Directors
  • Cyber Insurance
  • Salary Increment
  • Economy Growth
  • Human Resources
  • Generating Wealth Beyond Money
  • Agile Mindset for Leadership
  • Aspiring Independent Directors
  • Board Leadership
  • Corporate Governance & Women on Boards
  • BOARD MEMBER
  • SME
  • WOMEN DIRECTOR
  • BOARD MEMBERS

Archive

  • 2021
    • April (3)
      • Will you drive your vehicle without a dashboard?
      • Are you making SIPs to improve your Emotional Intelligence
      • Corporate Governance needs a Moral Compass – Ethics in Indian Boardrooms!
    • August (9)
      • Grow with Governance: ESG is the umbrella for CSR, says Vedanta's Roma Balwani
      • Grow with Governance: PadUp Ventures' Rajat Jain Demystifies Correlation of Governance and Economic Growth
      • Grow with Governance: Family governance impacts the culture of a family-run business, says Equations Advisors' Mita Dixit
      • Entrepreneurial Board
      • NEW REGULATORY PROVISIONS RELATED TO INDEPENDENT DIRECTORS
      • ESG & ITS IMPORTANCE FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF BOARD MEETING
      • Start early, don't wait till retirement to become an Independent Director, says Increate Value Advisors' Milind Sarwate
      • The winding road of leadership coaching in the post-pandemic era
      • Challenges of Organizational Culture Change
    • February (4)
      • Re-examination of Purpose by the Boards in Post -Pandemic Era
      • What Makes Great Boards Great! Performance Evaluation by Boards and Role of Independent Directors
      • Promoter Director – Time to become Custodian of Governance!
      • Diversity and Inclusion – The Board Perspective!
    • January (2)
      • New Directors - Have you done your due diligence
      • Cyber Security Insurance and Boards
    • July (7)
      • Why Advisory Boards Are Important for Indian Business Corporates?
      • Grow with Governance: ESG essential to repair the damage economic activities caused to the earth, says CA Shailesh Haribhakti
      • Top 10 areas to contribute in Boards as Independent Directors
      • Top 10 Questions to Ask in Boardrooms!
      • Essential HOWs of Boardroom!
      • Kindness is key
      • How to Brand Yourself as a Leader of the Company?
    • June (6)
      • Leading from the Boardroom
      • Are you hesitant to speak in the Boardroom!
      • The Neem Project a Leadership case study
      • Directors Liability in India
      • Why do promoters need Independent Directors?
      • Corporate Governance Deviation – Infosys Case Study
    • March (4)
      • Board Refreshment: Finding the Right Balance for your Board!
      • HR Governance and Board – How Important Is It?
      • Agility and Compassion: Two Pillars for Boards in the Post Pandemic Era!
      • Modernizing Governance: The Board’s Role in ESG!
    • May (3)
      • Restructuring appraisals in 2021 – Gratitude, Purpose & Meritocracy
      • How do you make your personal Brand?
      • Leadership Coaching: How does it help Leaders
    • October (2)
      • Are Independent Director’s required on the Board?
      • 'Ethics & Governance' lesson should start from school, says Federal Bank's Independent Director, Sankarshan Basu
    • September (3)
      • Grow with Governance: As an Independent Director ensure your voice is heard, says Apurva Purohit
      • Grow with Governance: Push for ESG agenda; pool CSR funds to maximise impact, says Ranganath NK, former MD of Grundfos Pumps
      • Grow with Governance: Boards should prepare companies for different risks, says National Insurance Academy's G Srinivasan
  • 2020
    • August (4)
      • WOMEN DIRECTOR-An Emerge
      • ARE YOUR BOARD MEMBERS SAVVY WITH FINANCIAL TERMS AND EXCEL IN FINANCIAL LITERACY QUOTIENT AS PER COMPANIES ACT 2013 MANDATES.
      • BOARD MEMBER SELECTION- A TASK OF PERFECTION
      • SME IPO – AN OPPORTUNITY TO CAPITALIZE YOUR BUSINESS
    • December (3)
      • Good or bad, Salary Increments always cause a heartburn among employees
      • Is Economic Progress Enough?
      • Emotional Intelligence
    • November (3)
      • Generating Wealth Beyond Money
      • "Agile Mindset for Leadership"
      • Tips for Aspiring Independent Directors
    • September (3)
      • Independent Director
      • Lean Thinking Boards
      • Corporate Governance & Women on Boards
  • 2022
    • August (1)
      • Liability of Independent Directors – An Important Aspect of Corporate Governance
    • February (4)
      • A Hero's Farewell: How to handle employee exits with dignity
      • Green Bonds: An Instrument for Financing a Sustainable Future
      • Tool for effectiveness of Board Committees - Ask Right Questions
      • Russia-Ukraine war and India’s Business Implication
    • July (2)
      • Stagnation or Evolution – Mindset Shifts of Boards when Company sees Stagnated Growth
      • Risk Assessment and Minimization Procedures – Role of Board
    • March (2)
      • A study on Sustainability Report of Container Shipping Companies.
      • India and The ESG impact of Crypto Currencies
    • May (1)
      • Independent Directors liability under GST
    • November (1)
      • Workplace Sexual Harassment and the Role of Board
    • October (2)
      • How many Boards are too many?
      • Women in Indian Boardrooms Vs Diversity = Inversely Proportionate
    • September (2)
      • Organizing for the Future – Important keys to becoming future ready
      • Are you ready to serve on the Board?