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Friday, Feb 22, 2002

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Board meetings may go hi-tech

Richa Mishra

NEW DELHI, Feb. 21

THE Department of Company Affairs (DCA) has asked the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) to examine the prospects of holding board meetings through video-conferencing.

"ICSI is working in close co-ordination with DCA. A meeting with major companies, which can contribute in this aspect, as well as representatives from the Information Technology Ministry, is scheduled for February 27 at the institute,'' ICSI officials told Business Line.

"The issues to be discussed at the meeting include — the legal framework, issues of management as well as the problems of technical security,'' the institute said.

A draft report and a presentation on the same was made to the department by the institute, officials said.

The need for examining the prospects of holding board meetings through video-conferencing arose with the Commerce Ministry writing to the DCA about making this option available for the SEZs.

"With the advancement in information technology, video-conferencing has become possible, enabling people sitting at a distance to effectively interact with each other. It is high time we started thinking of whether the board meetings can be held through means of video-conferencing, which will also be time-saving,'' ICSI said.

Commenting on the issue, DCA sources said: "We are examining the prospects. However, it is not possible, at present to allow all the meetings through video-conferencing. Some subjects will still require physical meetings.''

Further, some of the problems that need to be discussed include— misuse, disputes, technical problems and dummy attendance.

The other issue to be examined is what would be the place of meeting in case all members decided to hold the meeting through video-conferencing. Would it be the place where the Chairman is present?

The provisions prescribed under the Companies Act, 1956, regarding the powers to be exercised at the board meetings only also need to be looked into, the institute said.

The most important issue, however, is how this concept will be introduced. "We are working out the modalities,'' sources said, adding that "the said meeting will be deliberating on the issues raised.''

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