R Narayan Murthy Committee
With the belief that the efforts to improve corporate governance standards in India must continue because these standards themselves were evolving in keeping with the market dynamics, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had constituted a Committee on Corporate Governance in 2002 , in order to evaluate the adequacy of existing corporate governance practices and further improve these practices. It was set up to review Clause 49, and suggest measures to improve corporate governance standards. The SEBI Committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Shri N. R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman and Chief Mentor of Infosys Technologies Limited. The Committee comprised members from various walks of public and professional life. This included captains of industry, academicians, public accountants and people from financial press and industry forums. The terms of reference of the committee were to: 

review the performance of corporate governance; and determine the role of companies in responding to rumour and other price sensitive information circulating in the market, in order to enhance the transparency and integrity of the market.

The issues discussed by the committee primarily related to audit committees, audit reports, independent directors, related parties, risk management, directorships and director compensation, codes of conduct and financial disclosures. The committee's recommendations in the final report were selected based on parameters including their relative importance, fairness, accountability, transparency, ease of implementation, verifiability and enforceability. The key mandatory recommendations focused on: 


strengthening the responsibilities of audit committees; improving the quality of financial disclosures, including those related to related party transactions and proceeds from initial public offerings; requiring corporate executive boards to assess and disclose business risks in the annual reports of companies; introducing responsibilities on boards to adopt formal codes of conduct; the position of nominee directors; and stock holder approval and improved disclosures relating to compensation paid to non-executive directors.

Non-mandatory recommendations included: 


moving to a regime where corporate financial statements are not qualified; instituting a system of training of board members; and evaluation of performance of board members.

As per the committee, these recommendations codify certain standards of 'good governance' into specific requirements, since certain corporate responsibilities are too important to be left to loose concepts of fiduciary responsibility. Their implementation through SEBI's regulatory framework will strengthen existing governance practices and also provide a strong incentive to avoid corporate failures. The Committee noted that the recommendations contained in their report can be implemented by means of an amendment to the Listing Agreement, with changes made to the existing clause 49.

In other words. and ii) those by a Managing Director. It is mandatory for all listed companies to comply with the clause by 31 December 2005. In corporate hierarchy two types of managements are envisaged: i) companies managed by Board of Directors.  As per Clause 49. adequate disclosures and Effective decision-making to achieve corporate objectives. one of the directors is required to be "financially literate". including the NSE and BSE).[1] The term µClause 49¶ refers to clause number 49 of the Listing Agreement between a company and the stock exchanges on which it is listed (the Listing Agreement is identical for all Indian stock exchanges. Statutory and legal compliance. In the case of a company with a non-executive Chairman. transparency and accountability. The clause mandates composition of an audit committee. Transparency in business transactions.´ It ensures Commitment to values and ethical conduct of business. improving quality of financial disclosures. strengthening the responsibilities of audit committees. and annex the same to the director's report. requiring Boards to adopt formal code of conduct. among others. whole-time director or manager subject to the control and guidance of the Board of Directors. including those relating to related party transactions and proceeds from public/ rights/ preferential issues.Clause 49 of the Listing Agreement to the Indian stock exchange comes into effect from 31 December 2005. It has been formulated for the improvement of corporate governance in all listed companies. Good Corporate Governance is simply Good Business. processes and principles which ensure that a company is governed in the best interest of all stakeholders. requiring CEO/CFO certification of financial statements and for improving disclosures to shareholders. This clause is a recent addition to the Listing Agreement and was inserted . It would be necessary for chief executives and chief financial officers to establish and maintain internal controls and implement remediation and risk mitigation towards deficiencies in internal controls.      Corporate Governance may be defined as ³A set of systems. Certain non-mandatory clauses like whistle blower policy and restriction of the term of independent directors have also been included. at least one-third of the board should be independent directors. for a company with an Executive Chairman. at least 50 per cent of the board should comprise independent directors. Corporate Governance is about promoting corporate fairness. Clause 49 of the SEBI guidelines on Corporate Governance as amended on 29 October 2004 has made major changes in the definition of independent directors. Clause VI (ii) of Clause 49 requires all companies to submit a quarterly compliance report to stock exchange in the prescribed form. A company is also required to obtain a certificate either from auditors or practising company secretaries regarding compliance of conditions as stipulated. The clause also requires that there be a separate section on corporate governance in the annual report with a detailed compliance report.

Five broad themes predominate. were made mandatory as were the Management¶s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) section and the Report on Corporate Governance in the Annual Report. In late 2002. Based on the recommendations of this committee. It specified the minimum number of independent directors required on the board of a company. The setting up of an Audit committee. even beyond). among others. was intended to introduce some basic corporate governance practices in Indian companies and brought in a number of key changes in governance and disclosures (many of which we take for granted today). The independence criteria for directors have been clarified. SEBI constituted the Narayana Murthy Committee to assess the adequacy of current corporate governance practices and to suggest improvements. and the accountability of top management²specifically the CEO and CFO²has been enhanced. The roles and responsibilities of the audit committee in all matters relating to internal controls and financial reporting have been consolidated. SEBI issued a modified Clause 49 on 29 October 2004 (the µrevised Clause 49¶) which came into operation on 1 January 2006. The quality and quantity of disclosures have improved. Within each of these areas. Clause 49. and disclosures of fees paid to non-executive directors. and a Shareholders¶ Grievance committee. when it was first added. . The roles and responsibilities of the board have been enhanced.as late as 2000 consequent to the recommendations of the Kumarmangalam Birla Committee on Corporate Governance constituted by the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in 1999. A limit was placed on the number of committees that a director could serve on. The revised Clause 49 has suitably pushed forward the original intent of protecting the interests of investors through enhanced governance practices and disclosures. the revised Clause 49 moves further into the realm of global best practices (and sometimes.

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