Highlights of CSR Rules under Companies Bill 2014

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has notified Section 135 and Schedule VII OF Companies Act 2013 as well as the provisions of the Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules, 2014 to come into effect from April 1, 2014.


ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA:-
With effect from April 1, 2014, every company, private limited or public limited, which either has a net worth of Rs 500 crore or a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or net profit of Rs 5 crore, needs to spend at least 2% of its average net profit for the immediately preceding three financial years on corporate social responsibility activities. The activities should not be undertaken in the normal course of business and must be with respect to any of the activities mentioned in Schedule VII of the 2013 Act. Contribution to any political party is not considered to be a CSR activity and only activities in India would be considered for computing CSR expenditure.

ACTIVITIES UNDER CSR:
The activities that can be undertaken by a company to fulfil its CSR obligations include eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition, promoting preventive healthcare, promoting education and promoting gender equality, setting up homes for women, orphans and the senior citizens, measures for reducing inequalities faced by socially and economically backward groups, ensuring environmental sustainability and ecological balance, animal welfare, protection of national heritage and art and culture, measures for the benefit of armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents, training to promote rural, nationally recognized, Paralympic or Olympic sports, contribution to the prime minister’s national relief fund or any other fund set up by the Central Government  for socio economic development and relief and welfare of  SC, ST, OBCs, minorities and women, contributions or funds provided to technology incubators located within academic institutions approved by the Central Government and rural development projects.

COMMITTEE ON CSR:-
To formulate and monitor the CSR policy of a company, a CSR Committee of the Board needs to be constituted. Section 135 of the 2013 Act requires the CSR Committee to consist of at least three directors, including an independent director. However, CSR Rules exempts unlisted public companies and private companies that are not required to appoint an independent director from having an independent director as a part of their CSR Committee and stipulates that the Committee for a private company and a foreign company need have a minimum of only 2 members.

REPORT ON CSR:-
The report of the Board of Directors attached to the financial statements of the Company would also need to include an annual report on the CSR activities of the company in the format prescribed in the CSR Rules setting out inter alia a brief outline of the CSR policy, the composition of the CSR Committee, the average net profit for the last three financial years and the prescribed CSR expenditure. If the company has been unable to spend the minimum required on its CSR initiatives, the reasons for not doing so are to be specified in the Board Report.

Where a company has a website, the CSR policy of the company would need to be disclosed on such website.

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