Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in India
Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) is continuing commitment by businesses to integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations.Changes in the global environment increasingly challenge business around the world to look beyond financial performance, and to integrate social and environmental concerns into their strategic management.
Prior to Companies Act 2013, CSR in India has traditionally been seen as a philanthropic activity. And in keeping with the Indian tradition, it was believed that every company has a moral responsibility to play an active role in discharging the social obligations, subject to the financial health of the company. In the early 90’s Mahatma Gandhi introduced the concept of trusteeship helping socio-economic growth. CSR was influenced by family values, traditions, culture and religion.
On 29th August 2013, The Companies Act 2013 replaced the Companies Act of 1956. The New Act has introduced far-reaching changes that affect company formation, administration, and governance, and incorporates an additional section i.e. Section 135 – clause on Corporate Social Responsibility obligations (“CSR”) for companies listed in India. The clause covers the essential prerequisites pertaining to the execution, fund allotment and reporting for successful project implementation.
India became the first country to legislate the need to undertake CSR activities and mandatorily report CSR initiatives under the new Companies Act 2013. This is the beginning of a new era for CSR in India.
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or a net worth of Rs.500 crore or more
or a net profit of Rs.5 crore or more.Companies meeting the above criteria are required to constitute a CSR Committee consists of three directors and one director shall be an independent director. An unlisted public company or a private company covered under Section 135(1) of the Act, which is not required to appoint an independent director, shall have its CSR Committee without such director and a private company with two directors on Board should constitute its CSR Committee with only two directors. The CSR Committee shall institute a transparent monitoring mechanism for implementation of the CSR projects or programs or activities undertaken by the company. The companies falling under the prescribed criteria are required to spend a minimum 2% of its average net profit for its preceding three financial years amount on CSR activities and report on the activities detailed in Schedule VII, or prepare to explain why they didn’t. Suggested Areas of Activities for companies to implement their CSR in PROJECT MODE are : (as per Schedule VII)
- Eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition, promoting health care including preventive health care and sanitation including contribution to the Swachh Bharat Kosh set-up by the Central Government for the promotion of sanitation and making available safe drinking water;
- promoting education, including special education and employment enhancing vocation skills especially among children, women, elderly and the differently abled and livelihood enhancement projects;
- promoting gender equality, empowering women, setting up homes and hostels for women and orphans; setting up old age homes, day care centres and such other facilities for senior citizens and measures for reducing inequalities faced by socially and economically backward groups;
- ensuring environmental sustainability, ecological balance, protection of flora and fauna, animal welfare, agroforestry, conservation of natural resources and maintaining quality of soil, air and water including contribution to the Clean Ganga Fund setup by the Central Government for rejuvenation of river Ganga;
- protection of national heritage, art and culture including restoration of buildings and sites of historical importance and works of art; setting up public libraries; promotion and development of traditional art and handicrafts;
- measures for the benefit of armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents;
- training to promote rural sports, nationally recognized sports, Paralympic sports and olympic sports;
- contribution to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund or any other fund set up by the Central Govt. for socio economic development and relief and welfare of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women;
- contributions or funds provided to technology incubators located within academic institutions which are approved by the Central Govt.
- rural development projects
- slum area development.
CSR Laws in India
|1||Notification||29.08.13||The COMPANIES ACT||www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/CompaniesAct2013.pdf|
|2||S.O.582(E)||27.02.2014||Notification relating to effective date of provisions of section 135 and Schedule VII of Companies Act, 2013||www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/CompaniesActNotification1_2014.pdf|
|3||G.S.R, 129(E)||27.02.2014||Notification relating to effective date of provisions of section 135 and Schedule VII of Companies Act, 2014||http://ghsa.in/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CompaniesActNotification2_2014.pdf|
|4||G.S.R.130(E)||27.02.2014||Notification relating to amendments of Schedule VII of Companies Act, 2013||www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/CompaniesActNotification3_2014.pdf|
|5||G.S.R.261(E)||31.03.2014||Corrigenda to Notification no. GSR 130E dated 27.02.2014 regarding Schedule VII [w.r.t CSR Activities]||www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/Notification_03April2014.pdf|
|6||General Circular No. 21/2014||18.06.2014||Clarifications with regard to provisions of Corporate Social Responsibility under section 135||www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/General_Circular_21_2014.pdf|
|8||G.S.R. 644€||12.09.2014||Rules dated 12th Sept 2014: Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Amendment Rules,2014||www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/NCA_Rules_12092014.pdf|
|9||General Circular No. 36/2014||17.09.2014||General Circular 36 dated 17 Sept 2014: Clarification with regard to provisions of CSR under section 135||www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/circular_36_17092014.pdf|
|10||G.S.R. 741(E)||24.10.2014||Notification dated: 24.10.2014 – Amendment in Schedule VII of the Companies Act, 2013||www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/Amendment_Notification_24102014.pdf|
|11||Notification||19.01.2015||The Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Amendment Rules, 2015||www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/Amendment_Rules_2015_20012015.pdf|
|12||General Circular 01/2015:||03.02.2015||Constitution of a High Level Committee to suggest measures for improved monitoring of the implementation of CSR policies by the companies under Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013||www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/General_Circular_01_2015.pdf|
|13||Notification||28.02.15||General Budget 2015-16 by Finance Minister Shree Arun Jaithley ( Pib.nic.in||pib.nic.in/budget2015/budgetdoc/gbEngRelease.pdf|
|14||Notification||15.05.2015||Eligible Donations to Swachh Bharat Kosh and Clean Ganga Fund to be 100% Deductible||http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=116180|
|15||Notification||12.01.16||Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with regard to Corporate Social Responsibility under section 135 of the Companies Act,2013||http://www.mca.gov.in/Ministry/pdf/FAQ_CSR.pdf|
1.What is meaning of ‘any financial year’ mentioned in Section 135 (1) of the Companies Act, 2013?
“Any Financial year” referred under Sub- Section (1) of Section 135 of the Act read with Rule 3(2) of Companies CSR Rule, 2014 implies any of the three preceding financial years ( may refer General Circular No. 21/2014, dated: 18.06.2014).
2.Compliance under section 135 of the Act i.e. Corporate Social Responsibility, is applicable from which Financial Year?
The compliance of the provisions of CSR under the Companies Act, 2013 i.e. constitution of CSR Committee, formulation of CSR Policy, the spending of requisite amount on CSR activities came into force from April, 2014.
3.Whether expenditure by Companies on activities covered under Schedule VII for the fulfillment of any Act/Statute of Regulations will count as CSR expenditure?
This would not count as CSR expenditure. (may refer point no. (iii) of General Circular No. 21/2014, dated: 18.06.2014).
4. Can the expenditure incurred towards personnel exclusively appointed by the companies for implementing the CSR activities of the company, be included in the expenditure earmarked for CSR activities?
Salary paid by the companies to regular CSR staff as well as employees, who render their services for CSR will be part of Administrative overheads and should not exceed 5% of the total CSR expenditure as per rule 4(6) of CSR Policy, Rules 2014.
5.Whether CSR expenditure of a company can be claimed as a business expenditure?
The amount spent by a company towards CSR cannot be claimed as business expenditure. The Finance Act, 2014 provides that any expenditure incurred by an assessee on the activities relating to corporate social responsibility referred to in section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 shall not be deemed to be an expenditure incurred by the assessee for the purposes of the business or profession.
6. Whether the ‘average net profit’ criteria for section 135(5) is Net profit before tax or Net profit after tax?
Computation of net profit for section 135 is as per section 198 of the Companies Act, 2013 which primarily is NET PROFIT BEFORE TAX.
7. Can the CSR expenditure be spent on the activities beyond Schedule VII?
General Circular No. 21/2014 dated June18, 2014 of MCA has clarified that the statutory provision and provisions of CSR Rules, 2014, is to ensure that while activities undertaken in pursuance of the CSR policy must be relatable to Schedule VII of the Companies Act 2013. However, the entries in the said Schedule VII must be interpreted liberally so as to capture the essence of the subjects enumerated in the said Schedule. The items enlisted in the Schedule VII of the Act, are broad-based and are intended to cover a wide range of activities.
8. What tax benefits can be availed under CSR?
No specific tax exemptions have been extended to CSR expenditure per se. Finance Act, 2014 also clarifies that expenditure on CSR does not form part of business expenditure. While no specific tax exemption has been extended to expenditure incurred on CSR, spending on several activities like contributions to Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, scientific research, rural development projects, skill development projects, agricultural extension projects, etc., which find place in Schedule VII, already enjoy exemptions under different sections of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
The CSR projects or programs or activities that benefit only the employees of the company and their families shall not be considered as CSR activities in accordance with section 135 of the Act. • One-off events such as marathons/ awards/ charitable contribution/ advertisement/sponsorships of TV programmes etc. would not be qualified as part of CSR expenditure. • Expenses incurred by companies for the fulfillment of any Act/ Statute of regulations (such as Labour Laws, Land Acquisition Act etc.) would not count as CSR expenditure under the Companies Act. • Contribution of any amount directly or indirectly to any political party shall not be considered as a CSR activity. Activities undertaken by the company in pursuance of its normal course of business.
10. Will being a holding or subsidiary company of a company which fulfils the criteria under section 135(1) make the company liable to comply with section 135, even if the company itself fulfills the criteria
Being a holding or subsidiary company of a company which fulfils the criteria under section 135(1) doesn’t make the company liable to comply with section 135, unless the company itself fulfills the criteria.
11.Whether provisions of CSR are applicable on Section 8 Company, if it fulfills the criteria of section 135(1) of the Act.
Section 135 of the Act reads “ Every company…….”, i.e no specific exemption given to section 8 companies with regard to applicability of section 135, hence section 8 companies are required to follow CSR provisions.
12. Can donation of money to a trust by a company be treated as CSR expenditure of the company?
General Circular No. 21/2014 of MCA dated June 18, 2014 clarifies that Contribution to Corpus of a Trust/ Society/ Section 8 companies etc. will qualify as CSR expenditure as long as :
(a) the Trust/ Society/ Section 8 company etc. is created exclusively for undertaking CSR activities or
(b) where the corpus is created exclusively for a purpose directly relatable to a subject covered in Schedule VII of the Act
13. There is no need to prepare director’s report for Foreign company so whether it is mandatory for foreign Company also to give reporting of CSR activity
In case of a foreign company, the balance sheet filed under sub-clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 381 shall contain an Annexure regarding report on CSR.
14.Whether contribution to political party is considered as CSR activity?
Contribution of any amount directly or indirectly to any political party under section 182 of the Act, shall not be considered as CSR activity. (May refer Rule 4(7) of CSR Policy, Rules 2014).
15.Whether CSR projects or programs for employee of the Company and their family will form part of CSR activity?
NO, The CSR projects or programs or activities that benefit only the employees of the company and their Families shall not be considered as CSR activities in accordance with section 135 of the Act’. (May refer Rule 4(5) of CSR Policy, Rules 2014).
16. Whether CSR projects and programme undertaken outside India consider as CSR activity?
Any excess amount spent (i.e., more than 2% as specified in section 135) cannot be carried to the subsequent years and adjusted against the year’s CSR expenditure.
17. Whether expenditure incurred on disaster relief qualifies for CSR or not?
Disaster relief can cover wide range of activities that can be appropriately shown under various items listed in Schedule VII. For example,
(i) medical aid can be covered under ‘promoting health care including preventive health care.’
(ii) food supply can be covered under eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition.
(iii) supply of clean water can be covered under ‘sanitation and making available safe drinking water’. (May refer to annexure to General Circular dated 18.06.2014
18. Whether contribution in kind is permissible as CSR or not?
Section 135 prescribes “….shall ensure that company spends….”.The company has to spend the amount.