Market regulator SEBI will take ‘necessary’ action against listed firms which fail to appoint at least one woman director on their boards by the end of this month, Parliament was informed today.

The capital markets watchdog had issued guidelines in February last year asking companies to appoint at least one woman director on their board by October 1, 2014, which was later relaxed to April 1, 2015.

“SEBI will take necessary action when the compliance position by companies is known after March 31, 2015,” Minister of State for Finance, Jayant Sinha, said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

According to an estimate, nearly one-third of the top-500 listed companies do not have any female representation on their respective boards.

With just a fortnight left to meet the deadline, SEBI has written to more than 160 such companies to ensure compliance.

After SEBI’s direction in February last year, many companies had stepped up efforts to have women directors on their boards and nearly 500 female members were nominated to the boards till December 2014, although many of them happen to be family members of the promoters.

Still, a large number of companies are yet to comply.

The norms were finalised by the regulator after detailed discussions were held between SEBI and the concerned stakeholders for over a year and involve stronger regulations for listed companies than those prescribed under the Companies Act for non-listed entities.

These include clarifications on rules relating to the appointment and qualification of directors as well as independent directors, matters relating to related party transactions, and rules governing meetings of the board and its powers.