Ministry makes a mess of key papers filed by 150,000 firms

Ministry makes a mess of key papers filed by 150,000 firms
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First Published: Mon, Jan 05 2009. 06 03 AM IST

For the record:Files strewn all around at the office of the ministry of corporate affairs in Manesar, Gurgaon. Madhu Kapparath / Mint
For the record:Files strewn all around at the office of the ministry of corporate affairs in Manesar, Gurgaon. Madhu Kapparath / Mint
Updated: Mon, Jan 05 2009. 09 13 PM IST
New Delhi: Documents of at least 150,000 public and private companies registered in Delhi and Haryana are lying in disarray at a rented office of the ministry of corporate affairs, or MCA, in Manesar, Gurgaon.
For the record:Files strewn all around at the office of the ministry of corporate affairs in Manesar, Gurgaon. Madhu Kapparath / Mint
They were shifted to this town in Haryana in the neighbourhood of Delhi from the CGO Complex office in south Delhi in May due to a space crunch.
In early November, when a Mint team went to Manesar to inspect the file of a public limited company, officials at the Registrar of Companies, or RoC, there couldn’t help locate it. It was on 30 December that the file was finally accessed for inspection.
The state of affairs hardly changed between early November and end-December. Again, the Mint team found files strewn all around, on the floor and elsewhere.
Any new entity that wants to function as a company needs to be registered with respective regional RoCs, which are part of MCA. There are 23 RoCs in India and at least 950,000 companies are registered with them.
“Since important data relating to corporates have been put in electronic form through the ministry’s portal MCA 21 (e-governance programme), slowly these documents in physical form (hard copies) are getting redundant. But that does not mean files are thrown here and there and left unattended. We will look into the matter,” said a senior MCA official who didn’t want to be identified.
Under MCA 21, launched in February 2006, balance sheets and annual returns of the past three years as also permanent records such as incorporation certificate, memorandum of association of promoters and directors and articles of association (documents dealing with how to conduct business such as board and shareholders meetings) for all existing companies were put under an electronic system.
Companies registered since 2006 had to file all documents electronically.
The system has also facilitated the public at large. Anybody wanting to look at data pertaining to registered companies can do so by logging on to the MCA portal (www.mca.gov.in) and by making an online payment.
However, physical documents are important because not all data can be found online. Professionals such as company secretaries, cost and works accountants and government officials still go to inspect files.
“Physical inspection comes in handy if one wants to see legacy records, such as old balance sheets and change in directors, that have not been put in the portal. Besides, in cases of litigation professionals look for minute details which are not recorded electronically,” explained another MCA senior official who is closely monitoring the MCA 21 initiative. He also didn’t want to be identified.
Professionals, on their part, are disappointed.
“I have been coming here quite regularly to get details on certain companies. But most often I have to go back disappointed as files I am looking for cannot be found,” said a company secretary outside the Manesar office on condition of anonymity.
“This office is located very far away and it takes us long hours to commute, then there is labour shortage that’s why it is taking more time,” said an RoC official associated with the shifting of files; he also didn’t want to be identified.
The official blamed packaging firm Agarwal Packers and Movers for the chaos. The company was awarded a contract to move the files from Delhi to Manesar for at least Rs6.5 lakh.
“All files are serialized and we had expected Agarwal Packers and Movers to pack them according to serial numbers and stack them according to the same serial numbers in Manesar. But they just shoved files randomly in gunny bags and started putting them randomly on the racks. That’s why their payment has been stopped,” he said.
An Agarwal Packers and Movers executive refuted the charges. “We did whatever we were told to do. Even today our boys are working to put files in order,” he said, adding that the MCA has so far made only 50% of the payment.
According to two RoC officials, who didn’t want to be identified, on an average, four-five individuals visit the Manesar office on a given day, besides government officials who go there to inspect the files.
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First Published: Mon, Jan 05 2009. 06 03 AM IST
More Topics: Ministry | Papers | Manesar | MCA | Gurgaon |