Listed companies will have to conform to SEBI diktat of providing mandatory e-voting facility to all shareholder resolutions passed in general meetings.

This is even as the Corporate Affairs Ministry had recently clarified that e-voting would not be mandatory till December 31 this year.

Simply put, listed companies cannot take shelter under the Corporate Affairs Ministry stance and not provide e-voting facility to its shareholders till end-December.

This could bring clarity to several listed companies, who in the ongoing AGM season had raised doubts on mandatory e-voting given the Corporate Affairs Ministry’s latest stance on this matter.

“If there are two sets of requirements, it is settled principle as higher as the level of Supreme Court of India that the provisions of SEBI regulations will prevail so far as listed companies are concerned,” U K Sinha, SEBI Chairman, told reporters here on Saturday.

He was replying to a query about divergent practices sought to be adopted by listed companies post the Corporate Affairs Ministry’s clarification on the issue of mandatory e-voting.

When contacted, a Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) spokesperson said that SEBI circular of April 17 (to provide mandatory e-voting facility), which was not yet amended, would prevail.

BSE had brought the details of the Corporate Affairs Ministry stance to the attention of listed companies by displaying it on the bourse’s Web site.

Post this BSE move, several listed companies had approached the stock exchange with queries on the implementation date of mandatory e-voting.

There were doubts among listed companies on whether the existing SEBI norm or the latest MCA clarification would prevail.

The country’s leading bourse National Stock Exchange remained silent on the matter.

SEBI had in mid-April amended the listing agreement (clause 35B) to stipulate that e-voting facility be provided for all shareholder resolutions in general meetings.

SEBI’s move was intended to align the listing agreement with the new company law. But the Corporate Affairs Ministry had said on June 17 that e-voting was optional upto December 2014.

Srivats.kr@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 22, 2014)
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