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Firms appoint women directors before Sebi deadline

Following Sebi guideline of having at least one female board member more than 250 companies including Adani and Essar Groups, appointed women directors.

The companies have mostly appointed wives or daughters of their promoters or top executives.

Till late evening the three firms that did not comply with the orders were ONGC, PNB and BPCL. However, it could not be determined if these companies submitted to Sebi norms later in the night.

The companies without a woman director may face strict action under the Sebi regulations. While Sebi norms charge penalty of up to Rs 25 crore, the penalty under the Companies Act can range from Rs 5,000 to Rs 5 lakh.

Sebi asked stock exchanges to submit a compliance status on Tuesday. A final update would be provided on Tuesday after including late-night filings. Afterwards, Sebi will begin the process of undertaking necessary action against the defaulter companies.

Adani Power, Golden Tobacco, Adani Ports and SEZ, Essar Oil, Prime Capital Market, Linc Pen and Plastics and Kohinoor Foods are the companies which appointed women members on their boards as independent directors.

At least 80 companies announced the nomination of women directors as independent board members, whereas 110 appointed non-independent female directors.

Sebi has cautioned companies of strict action if they fail to appoint one women director. Chairman U K Sinha recently said that it was "really shameful" that several companies were not being able to select even one woman director. According to the new Corporate Governance rule steered in by Sebi in 2014, the companies are obliged to appoint women directors. It also included various measures concerning independent directors and top management salaries to defend the interest of small investors.

Previously, the new rule was valid for all the listed firms. Sebi later excused smaller companies -those having equity share capital of up to Rs 10 crore and networth not exceeding Rs 25 crore from the mandatory obedience for some time.