(a) where chairman is an executive chairman, atleast half the board has to comprise of independent directors
(b) where the chairman is a non-executive chairman, then one-third of the board has to comprise of independent directors
1. If the non-executive Chairman is a promoter or is related to promoters or persons occupying management positions at the board level or at one level below the board, at least one-half of the board of the company should consist of independent directors.
Will impact companies
– having a non-executive Chairman who is a promoter or related to promoters &
– Having a non-executive Chairman related to persons occupying management positions at the board level or at one level below the Board.
This changeover is from a situation where if a company had a non-executive Chairman, then only one-third of the board needed to consist of independent directors.
An ambiguity which is created is whether the inter-se relationship amongst directors that needs to be disclosed in specified documents/filings is with reference to:
– ‘reporting relationship’ OR
– relationship of being ‘relatives’
3. The gap between resignation/removal of an independent director and appointment of another independent director in his place shall not exceed 180 days. However, this provision would not apply in case a company fulfils the minimum requirement of independent directors in its Board, i.e., one-third or one-half as the case may be, even without filling the vacancy created by such resignation/removal.
– This is an on-going requirement
– no impact where minimum requirement of independent directors is satisfied without filing up the vacancy.
4. The minimum age for independent directors shall be 21 years.
Companies will need to ensure incoming directors are of this age.
An ambiguity – what about companies who already have directors below this age OR does the capacity to contract as per Indian Contract Act anyway rules out those below 21 years of age from being a director, and hence this modification was not really required?
– The Board – A non-executive Chairman may be entitled to maintain a Chairman’s office at the company’s expense and also allowed reimbursement of expenses incurred in performance of his duties.
– Independent Directors may have a tenure not exceeding, in the aggregate, a period of nine years, on the Board of a company.
Some ambiguities which arise due to this requirement:
– Does the tenure already served require being reckoned for directors on board a listed company?
– Does the tenure served by a director prior to listing of a company which lists hereafter require being reckoned
Whilst the provision is itself non-mandatory – but in case of non-adoption, a specific disclosure in the annual report needs to be made and companies wanting to ensure good governance will be faced with the above ambiguities whilst complying.
Some segments will be able to ensure immediate compliance. for example in case of banking companies, the Banking Regulation Act already has a mandatory requirement limiting an independent director’s term to 8 years – itself a stricter standard than SEBI’s non-mandatory requirement limiting the term to 9 years.
As mentioned though these three requirements are non-mandatory, in case of non-adoption, a specific disclosure in the annual report needs to be made.