Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Payment of Sitting Fees to Managing Director

Section 309 of the Companies Act, 1956 in pertinent part, reads as under:

“(1) The remuneration payable to the directors of a company, including any managing or whole-time director, shall be determined, in accordance with and subject to the provisions of section 198 and this section, either by the articles of the company, or by a resolution or, if the articles so required, by a special resolution, passed by the company in general meeting and the remuneration payable to any such director determined as aforesaid shall be inclusive of the remuneration payable to such director for services rendered by him in any other capacity:

Provided that any remuneration for services rendered by any such director in any other capacity shall not be so included if (a) the services rendered are of a professional nature, and (b) in the opinion of the Central Government the director possesses the requisite qualifications for the practice of the profession.

(2) A director may receive remuneration by way of a fee for each meeting of the Board, or a committee thereof, attended by him: Provided that where immediately before the commencement of the Companies (Amendment) Act, 1960 (65 of 1960) fees for meetings of the Board and any committee thereof, attended by a director are paid on a monthly basis, such fees may continue to be paid on that basis for a period of two years after such commencement or for the remainder of the term of office of such director, whichever is less, but no longer.”

Section 198 of the Companies Act in relevant part, reads as follows:

“(1) The total managerial remuneration payable by a public company or a private company which is a subsidiary of a public company, to its directors and its manager in respect of any financial year shall not exceed eleven per cent of the net profits of that company for that financial year computed in the manner laid down in sections 349 and 350, except that the remuneration of the directors shall not be deducted from the gross profits.

(2) The percentage aforesaid shall be exclusive of any fees payable to directors under sub-section (2) of section 309.

(3) Within the limits of the maximum remuneration specified in sub-section (1), a company may pay a monthly remuneration to its managing or whole-time director in accordance with the provisions of section 309 or to its manager in accordance with the provisions of section 387.”

The very fact that sub-section (2) of Section 309 very clearly talks of “remuneration by way of a fee for each meeting of the board or a committee thereof attended by him” (by the director) gives rise to a necessary implication that sitting fees would amount to remuneration under provisions of Section 309. Further, in view of sub-section (2) of Section 198, which reads as follows: “The percentage aforesaid shall be exclusive of any fees payable to directors under sub-section (2) of Section 309.” It cannot be said that sitting fee would not amount to remuneration for purposes of Section 309 of the Companies Act, 1956.

In view of this legal position, a Managing Director can be paid sitting fees for attending board meetings of the company.
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