You are on page 1of 29

MANU/KA/0634/2001 Equivalent Citation: [2002]110CompCas371(Kar) IN THE HIGH COURT OF KARNATAKA Civil Revision Petition No.

1865 of 2001 Decided On: 10.12.2001 Appellants: Somalingappa Shiva Putrappa Mugabasav Vs. Respondent: Shree Renuka Sugars Ltd. Hon'ble Judges/Coram: N. Kumar, J. Counsels: For Appellant/Petitioner/Plaintiff: Holla and Holla For Respondents/Defendant: Vivek Chandy, Adv. Subject: Company Catch Words Mentioned IN Acts/Rules/Orders: Companies Act, 1956 - Section 171, Companies Act, 1956 - Section 171(1), Companies Act, 1956 - Section 172(2), Companies Act, 1956 - Section 172(3), Companies Act, 1956 - Section 172 Cases Referred: Shailesh Harilal Shah v. Matushree Textiles Ltd., [1995] 82 Comp. Cas. 5; Vice Chancellor, Utkal University v. S.K. Ghosh, AIR 1954 SC 217; Parmeshwari Prasad Gupta v. Union of India, [1974] 44 Comp. Cas. 1 (SC); Mahabir Prasad Jalan v. Bajrang Prasad Jalan, [2000] 102 Comp. Cas. 81 (Cal.); Musselwhite v. C.H. Musselwhite & Son Ltd., [1962] 32 Comp. Cas. 804 (Ch. D); Self Help Private Industrial Estate (P.) Ltd, In re [1974] 42 Comp. Cas. 605 (Mad.); N.V.R. Nagappa Chettiar v. Madras Race Club, [1949] 19 Comp. Cas. 175 (Mad.); Asansol Electric Supply Co. v. Chunnilal Daw, AIR 1972 Cal. 19; Bharat Kumar Diwali v. Bharat Carbon & Ribbon Mfg. Co. Ltd., [1973] 43 Comp. Cas. 197 (Delhi); Col. Kuldip Singh Dhillon v. Paragaon Utility Financiers (P.) Ltd, [1988] 64 Comp. Cas. 19 (Punj. & Har.); Maharaja Exports v. Apparels Exports Promotion Council, [1986] 60 Comp. Cas. 353 (Delhi); Calcutta Chemical Co. Ltd v. Dhiresh Chandra Roy, [1985] 58 Comp. Cas. 275 (Cal.); R. v. Ingall, [1877] 2 QBD 199; Hari Vishnu Kamath v. Ahmad Ishaque, AIR 1955 SC 233, 245; Julius v. Bishop of Oxford, [1880] 5 AC 214(S); United Commercial Bank Ltd. v. CIT, [1957] 32 ITR 688 (SC);Montreal Street Railway Company v. Normandin, AIR 1917 PC 142; Raza Buland Sugar Co. Ltd. v. Municipal Board, Rampur AIR. 1965 SC 895; Scadding v. Lorant, [1851] 3 HLC 418; Lorant v. Scadding, [1849] 13 QB 706; Joshi Kalidas v. Dakar Town Municipality, ILR 7 Bom. 399 Citing Reference:

Discussed 5 Mentioned 16 Case Note: Company - Injunction - Section 171(1) of the Companies Act, 1956 - Trial Court granted temporary injunction restraining Defendant from implementing any resolution passed inannual general meeting and held that Section 171(1) of Act was mandatory - Appellate

Court set aside order of Trial Court - Hence, this Appeal - Whether, order of Appellate Court was justified and Section 171(1) of Act was mandatory - Held, object of notice was to give a fair opportunity to shareholders to prepare themselves to face meeting - No notice was issued or notices issued were defective in sense from date of notice till date of holding of meeting twenty-one clear days was not given - However, notice was dispatched on 6.12.2000 and notice was received on 19.12.2000 meeting held on 30-12-2000 and Section 171(1) was not mandatory and in light of provisions of Section 172(2) of Act Therefore, twenty-one clear days was mentioned between date of notice and date of meeting and notice had been duly served on Plaintiff - Thus, First Appellate Court was right in setting aside order of Trial judge Petition dismissed. Ratio "Twenty-one clear days of annual general meeting." Disposition: Revision petition dismissed was mandatory between date of notice Decidendi and date

JUDGMENT N. Kumar, J. 1. The petitioner has challenged in this revision petition the order of the Appellate Court dated 19-42001, in M.A. No. 13 of 2001 allowing the appeal and setting aside the order of temporary injunction granted by the trial court. 2. The plaintiff has filed a suit for a declaration that the fifth annual report of the company intimating the fifth annual general body meeting on 30-12-2000, be declared as illegal, null and void and not binding upon the plaintiff and for a decree of permanent injunction restraining the defendant from conducting the fifth annual general meeting on 30-12-2000, in pursuance of the meeting notice received by the plaintiff on 19-12-2000. The plaintiff contends that he is one of the shareholders of the defendant-company. The defendant had got created the resolution of the meeting alleged to have been held on 4-9-1999, by stating that Sri S.B. Sidnal is removed from the directorship. The said resolution is illegal, arbitrary and a created one. The defendant has again called for an annual general meeting on 30-9-1999. Sri S.B. Sidnal Chairperson of the company addressed the said meeting and after his representation the members voted against the resolution alleged to have been passed on 4-9-1999 and nullified the alleged false resolution of the removal of Sri S.B. Sidnal and Shashikant Sidnal from the directorship and Sri Sidnal was requested to continue as director of the company. In view of the resolution dated 30-9-1999, Smt. Vidya Murakumbi cannot claim as Chairperson of the company; as such the meeting notice issued by the defendant calling for the fifth meeting on 30-12-2000, is illegal. Smt. Murakumbi was not accepted as the Chairperson or president of the company, therefore, the contents of the notice are all false and any proceedings under the Chairmanship of Smt. Vidya Murakumbi are all illegal. 3. It is further contended that the defendant had called for the meeting on 30-12-2000, at 9 a.m., and notice of the meeting has been received or served on the plaintiff on 19-12-2000. As per Section 165(2) of the Companies Act, 1956 ('the Act') the board of directors shall at least 21 days before the day on which the meeting is held forward a report (statutory report) to every member of the company. The statutory report has been served upon the plaintiff on 19-12-2000. The meeting is scheduled on 30-12-2000. There is no clear 21 days notice to the plaintiff and the same is the case of other shareholders also. The non-forwarding of a report at least 21 days before the date on which the meeting is held is illegal and in violation of the mandatory provisions of the Act. Moreover, no consent is accorded by the shareholders to call for the general body meeting after giving shorter notice within 21 days, therefore, the meeting called on 30-12-2000, is illegal and against the provisions of law. 4. It is further contended that the meeting is scheduled at Millennium Garden, Shukrawarpeth, Tilakwadi, Belgaum. The company has got its members from different remote villages of Saundatti, Bailhongal and Belgaum taluks. Due to non-availability of transportation all the shareholders may not attend the meeting. The defendant has purposely fixed the time of meeting at 9 a.m., in order to have thin representation so as to get passed illegal resolutions. The company ought to have called for the meeting within the business hours of the company. Normally, starting point of the business hours will be 10.30 a.m., but in the instant case by calling the meeting at 9 a.m., at Belgaum which is at about 150 kms., from some of the remote villages of Saundatti taluk and other towns, is totally inconvenient

and non-accessible to reach the scheduled place of meeting and, therefore, the meeting called is illegal and against the provisions of law. 5. The plaintiff also made an application for an order of temporary injunction restraining the defendants from conducting or holding the fifth annual general meeting at Shree Renuka Sugars Ltd., Belgaum, on 30-12-2001, at Millennium Garden, Shukrawarpeth, Tilakwadi, Belgaum. 6. Notice of the said application was served on the defendant who entered appearance through his counsel. In the statement of objections filed, the defendant has denied that he has created a resolution in the meeting held on 4-9-1999, removing Sri S.B. Sidnal from the directorship of the company. The defendant has stated that the suit filed by S.B. Sidnal seeking such declaration is still pending and the Court has not granted stay of the resolutions. The defendant also denied the allegation that on 30-91999, the shareholders have passed resolutions and S.B. Sidnal was requested to continue as director of the company. The defendant has further stated that it is absolutely false that the Chairperson of the company Smt. Vidya N. Murkumbi was not accepted as Chairperson of the company. It was asserted that Smt. Vidya Murkumbi is the Chairperson of the defendant-company since last more than two years. It was contended that prior notice of 21 days is not required to hold a meeting and the said provision is not applicable to the annual general body meeting. The defendant denied the allegation that notice of the annual general meeting has been served upon the plaintiff on 19-12-2000. It was asserted that the plaintiff has received the notice before 21 days of the meeting. The allegation that the meeting called on 30-12-2000 is illegal and against the provisions of law, is denied. The allegation that the defendant has purposely fixed the time of meeting at 9 a.m., in order to have thin representation so as to get the resolutions passed, is denied. It is asserted that the well-settled fact is that the meeting of the annual general meeting is called within the business hours of the company and on the working day of the company. Since the registered office of the defendant-company is situated in Belgaum, the annual general meeting will have to be conducted in Belgaum as required by the provisions of the Act. It is asserted that theannual general meeting on 30-9-2000, was held in furtherance of its statutory obligation imposed under the provisions of the Act, such meeting is being held as required by law by complying with all legal requirements of sending of notice. The annual general meeting of the company is to be conducted within 15 months of time and it is mandatory. It is further asserted that the plaintiff has received a notice prior to 21 days of conduct of the meeting. In spite of the same only with instigation of some persons and in order to harass the defendant-company and cause loss to it, he has filed the present suit dated 30-12-2000, which was the last day for the conduct of the annual general meeting by the defendant-company as per the provisions of the Act. The relief sought for by the plaintiff cannot be granted. Therefore, he prayed for dismissal of the application filed by the plaintiff for an order of temporary injunction. 7. At this juncture, it is relevant to point out that the annual general meeting was fixed on 30-122000. The plaintiff has filed the suit on 27-12-2000, for an order of temporary injunction restraining holding of the said meeting. Therefore, for want of time after hearing both the parties, the Court passed an order on 29-12-2000, making an interim arrangement before hearing the said application on the merits. The operative portion of the said order reads as under :

"The defendant is hereby directed not to implement any resolutions that would be passed in the meeting or to implement any decisions that would be taken in the meeting till disposal of I. A. II on the merits. With this condition the defendant is permitted to hold general meeting on December 30-12-2000, at 9 a.m. as has already been fixed. Issue orders accordingly."
8. The said order was passed before the vacation court as the civil courts had been closed for winter vacation. In terms of the said order the meeting was held on 30-12-2000 and resolutions were passed with reference to the agenda in the said notice. In order to understand the scope of the aforesaid interim order, it is necessary to have a look at the notice of the meeting. The said notice is dated 4-122000, which reads as under :

"Notice is hereby given that the fifth annual general meeting of Shree Renuka Sugars Ltd., will be held on Saturday, 30-12-2000 at Millennium Garden, Shukrawarpeth, Tilakwadi, Belgaum-590006 at 9 a.m., to transact the following business. Ordinary Business: 1. To receive, consider and adopt the audited balance-sheet as at 30-9-2000 and the profits and loss account for the year ended on that date and the reports of the

directors and auditors thereon. 2. To appoint a director in place of Mrs. Vidya M. Murkumbi who retires by rotation and being eligible, offers herself for re-appointment. 3. To appoint a director in place of Mr. Jayant G. Herwadkar who retires by rotation and being eligible, offers himself for re-appointment. 4. To appoint auditors and fix their remuneration. Special Business : 5. To consider and if thought fit to pass with or without modification the following resolution as a special resolution.
Resolved that, pursuant to Sections 16, 94(1)(d) and all other applicable provisions, if any, of the Companies Act, 1956, 5,00,000 (five lakhs) 12 per cent cumulative redeemable preference shares of the nominal value of Rs. 100 each be and are hereby subdivided into 50,00,000 (fifty lakhs) 2 per cent cumulative redeemable preference shares of Rs. 10 each and that the existing Sub-clause (b) of Clause V of the memorandum of association of the company be deleted and the following new Clause V(b) be substituted therefore. (b) 50,00,000 (fifty lakhs) 2 per cent cumulative redeemable preference shares of Rs. 10 (rupees ten only) each. 6. To consider and if thought fit to pass with or without modification the following resolution as a special resolution. Resolved that, pursuant to Section 31 and all other applicable provisions, if any, of the Companies Act, 1956, the existing Sub-article (b) of Article 5 of the articles of association be deleted and the following new Article 5(6) be substituted therefore. (b) 50,00,000 (fifty lakhs) 2 per cent non-cumulative redeemable preference shares of Rs. 10 (rupees ten only) each. Notes :--

1. A member entitled to attend and vote is entitled to appoint a proxy to attend and vote instead of himself and proxy need not be a member of the company. The proxy form duly completed must reach the registered office of the company not less than 48 hours before the commencement of the meeting. 2. The explanatory statement pursuant to Section 173 of the Companies Act, 1956, in respect of the business under items 5 to 8 set out is annexed hereto. 3. Members are requested to quote folio numbers in all the correspondences with the company. 4. Members/public proxy holders are requested to bring the copy at annual report to the meeting and hand over attendance slip duly signed at the entrance of the meeting venue."
9. The meeting was held on 30-12-2000 and all the resolutions have been passed. Thereafter, application was taken up for consideration by the trial court on its merits. The trial court after hearing both the parties and after considering the documents placed on record and taking note of the legal position as submitted on either side has granted an order of temporary injunction restraining the defendant from implementing any resolution passed in the meeting or to implement any decisions that were taken in the meeting till the disposal of the suit. In coming to the said conclusion, the trial court has held that Section 171(1) of the Act is mandatory and there was no clear 21 days notice after the same was served on the plaintiffs and the defendant has not produced any documents to show how many members were served notice before 21 days and notices were not served on the shareholders as per mandatory requirement. Aggrieved by the said order, the defendant preferred miscellaneous appeal before the Principal Civil Judge, Belgaum, in M.A. No. 13 of 2001. The Appellate Judge held that the trial court has basically erred in coming to the conclusion that Section171(1) is mandatory by

overlooking the principles enunciated by the High Court of Bombay in Shailesh Harilal Shah v. Matushree Textiles Ltd. [1995] 82 Comp. Cas. 5. The notice was served on the plaintiff on 19-12-2000, he approached the Court on 27-12-2000, barely three days before the meeting and in the absence of any explanation there is a delay on the part of the plaintiff in approaching the Court which disentitles the plaintiff for the relief of injunction. Section 171(1) is not mandatory and in the light of the provisions of Section 172(2) the plaintiff has not made out a prima facie case and that the order passed by the trial court is perverse and needs to be interfered with. Accordingly, he allowed the appeal. It is against the said order, the plaintiff has preferred this revision. 10. Sri Udaya Holla, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner contended before me as under :

(a) Section 171 is mandatory. Twenty-one days clear notice is a must, the same is to be calculated from the date of service of notice on the shareholder. The Legislature has deliberately used the words 'not less than 21 days notice in writing' making it clear that the said provision is mandatory. In the instant case as 21 days clear notice was not given to the plaintiff, the meeting held on 30-12-2000 and all the resolutions passed in the said meeting are null and void and liable to be set aside. (b) The annual general meeting is to be held during business hours of the company as per Section 156(2) of the Act. Deliberately the meeting was held at 9 a.m., thus, preventing the shareholders who are all living at remote corners of the villages reaching the venue of the meeting in time. Therefore, the annual generalmeeting is void. (c) The judgments of the Allahabad, Calcutta, Punjab and Haryana and Madras High Courts cited on behalf of the plaintiff have taken a view that Section 171 is mandatory and whereas the Bombay High Court has taken the view directory, and in the absence of any decision of the Supreme Court on the point when the trial court has followed the view of the majority of the High Courts, the Appellate Court should not have interfered with the said finding only on the ground that the Bombay High Court judgment lays down the correct law. (d) Lastly it was contended, it is well-settled that when the trial court in exercise of its discretionary jurisdiction, on appreciation of all the materials placed on record, comes to the conclusion that the plaintiff has made out a case for grant of injunction, even if the first Appellate Court can come to a different conclusion on the same set of facts, it is no ground to interfere with the order passed by the trial court.
11. Per contra, Sri Vivek Chandy, the learned counsel appearing for the respondents contended that the plaintiff has not produced any evidence to show that he was served notice less than 21 days before the meeting and moreover when admittedly he was served on 19-12-2000, with notice, he chose to move the Court two days prior to the date of the meeting, namely, December 27 and, therefore, because of delay and laches on his part in approaching the Court, he is not entitled to the discretionary relief of temporary injunction. The plaintiff does not disclose in the plaint what is the prejudice caused to him in attending the meeting and what are his objections to the proposed resolutions and what is the valuable right of his which he has been deprived of by non-service of notice 21 days before the date of the meeting. The trial court did not consider the effect of Section 172(3) where it has been clearly stated that the accidental omission to give notice or non-receipt of notice by any member or other person to whom it should be given shall not invalidate proceedings at the meeting. In the instant case, notice has been served and the plaintiff had an opportunity to attend the meeting and espouse his cause and, therefore, Section 171 cannot be held to be mandatory in view of the language employed in Section 172(3). In view of the postal strike which commenced on 5-12-2000, the company has despatched all the notices on 6-12-2000, through professional courier and except the plaintiff no other person had any grievance whatsoever regarding service of notice or want of 21 clear days of notice and, therefore, at the instance of one shareholder the company cannot be restrained from implementing the resolutions passed in the annualgeneral meeting. 12. Both the counsels in support of their respective contentions have relied on several judgments of various High Courts including the Supreme Court. 13. Having regard to these rival contentions, the undisputed facts which emerge are as under : The plaintiff is a shareholder of the defendant-company. The previous annual general meeting of the

company was held on 30-9-1999. In view of Section 166(1) of the Act, the next general meeting had to be held on or before 30-12-2000. It is to call the said meeting, the statutory notice was prepared on 4-12-2000. In view of the all India postal strike which commenced on 5-12-2000 the notice and explanatory statement were sent by courier on 6-12-2000. The plaintiff was served on 19-12-2000. If the date of service of notice is taken into consideration it is not in dispute from 19-12-2000, the petitioner did not have 21 clear days of notice of the annual general meeting. Therefore, he filed the suit on 27-12-2000. On 29-12-2000, as an interim arrangement the Court directed the company to hold its meeting, but restrained the company from giving effect to any resolution passed in the said meeting. Accordingly, the meeting was held on 30-12-2000 and all the resolutions were passed in the said meeting. In view of the interim orders passed in the case from time to time till today none of the resolutions in the said meeting has been given effect to. Now the only point that arises for my consideration is :

"Whether the annual general body meeting held on 30-12-2000 and the resolutions passed in the said meeting are invalidated for want of 21 days clear notice from the date of service of notice to the plaintiff ?"
14. The answer to this point depends upon the interpretation to be placed on Sections 171 and 172. Section 171 deals with the length of notice for calling the meeting. It reads as under :

"Length of notice for calling meeting.--(1) A general meeting of a company may be called by giving not less than twenty-one days notice in writing; (2) A general meeting may be called after giving shorter notice than that specified in Sub-section (1), if consent is accorded thereto-(i) in the case of an annual general meeting, by all the members entitled to vote thereat; and (ii) in the case of any other meeting, by members of the company (a) holding, if the company has a share capital, not less than 95 per cent of such part of the paid-up share capital of the company as gives a right to vote at the meeting, or (b) having, if the company has no share capital, not less than 95 per cent of the total voting power exercisable at that meeting:

Provided that where any members of a company are entitled to vote only on some resolution or resolutions to be moved at a meeting and not on the others, those members shall be taken into account for the purposes of this sub-section in respect of the former resolution or resolutions and not in respect of the latter."
15. The contents and manner of service of notice and persons on whom it is to be served is dealt with under Section 172 which reads as under :

"Contents and manner of service of notice and persons on whom it is to be served.--(1) Every notice of a meeting of a company shall specify the place and the day and hour of the meeting, and shall contain a statement of the business to be transacted thereat. (2) Notice of every meeting of the company shall be given-(i) to every member of the company, in any manner authorised by subsections (1) to (4) of Section 53; (ii) to the persons entitled to a share in consequence of the death or insolvency of a member, by sending it through the post in a prepaid letter addressed to them by name, or by the title of representatives of the deceased, or assignees of the insolvent, or by any like description, at the address, if any, in India supplied for the purpose by the persons claiming to be so entitled, or until such an address has been so supplied, by giving the notice in any manner in which it might have been given if the death or insolvency had not occurred; and (iii) to the auditor or auditors for the time being of the company, in any manner

authorised by Section 53 in the case of any member or members of the company: Provided that where the notice of a meeting is given by advertising the same in a newspaper circulating in the neighbourhood of the registered office of the company under Sub-section (3) of Section 53, the statement of material facts referred to in Section 173 need not be annexed to the notice as required by that section but it shall be mentioned in the advertisement that the statement has been forwarded to the members of the company. (3) The accidental omission to give notice to, or the non-receipt of notice by, any member or other person to whom it should be given shall not invalidate the proceedings at the meeting."
16. Service of documents on members by company is dealt with under Section 53 of the Act which reads as under :

"Service of documents on members by company.--(1) A document may be served by a company on any member thereof either personally, or by sending it by post to him to his registered address, or if he has no registered address in India, to the address, if any, within India supplied by him to the company for the giving of notices to him. (2) Where a document is sent by post,-(a) service thereof shall be deemed to be effected by properly addressing, prepaying and posting a letter containing the document, provided that where a member has intimated to the company in advance that documents should be sent to him under a certificate of posting or by registered post with or without acknowledgement due and has deposited with the company a sum sufficient to defray the expenses of doing so, service of the document shall not be deemed to be effected unless it is sent in the manner intimated by the member; and (b) such service shall be deemed to have been effected-(i) in the case of a notice of a meeting, at the expiration of forty-eight hours after the letter containing the same is posted, and (ii) in any other case at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post. (3) A document advertised in a newspaper circulating in the neighbourhood of the registered office of the company shall be deemed to be duly served on the day on which the advertisement appears, on every member of the company who has no registered address in India and has not supplied to the company an address within India for the giving of notices to him. (4) A document may be served by the company on the joint holders of a share by serving it on the joint holder named first in the register in respect of the share. (5) A document may be served by the company on the persons entitled to a share in consequence of the death or insolvency of a member by sending it through the post in a prepaid letter addressed to them by name, or by the title of representatives of the deceased, or assignees of the insolvent, or by any like description, at the address, if any, in India supplied for the purpose by the persons claiming to be so entitled, or until such an address has been so supplied, by serving the document in any manner in which it might have been served if the death or insolvency had not occurred."

17. The learned counsel appearing for the parties have relied on a catena of decisions in support of their respective contentions. The said decisions can be broadly categorized under three heads. The first category of cases are those where Section 171 was held to be mandatory where no notice was issued

under Section 171 and it has been held that omission to give notice invalidates the meeting and the resolutions passed in such meeting. Those decisions are : (i) Vice Chancellor, Utkal University v. S.K. Ghosh MANU/SC/0012/1954 : [1954]1SCR883 ; (ii) Parmeshwari Prasad Gupta v. Union of India MANU/SC/0395/1973 : [1974]1SCR304 ; (iii) Mahabir Prasad Jalan v. Bajrang Prasad Jalan MANU/WB/0240/1998;

(iv) Musselwhite v. C.H. Musselwhite & Son Ltd. [1962] 32 Comp. Cas. 804 (Ch. D).

18. The second category of cases are those cases wherein the notice issued for calling general meeting of the company 21 clear days was not stipulated between the date of notice and the date of the meeting. Under those circumstances, the Courts have held that Section 171 is mandatory. If the notice issued does not comply with this legal formality, the meeting held and the resolution passed in such meeting are void However, it has also been held that the shareholders by consent can agree for a lesser period even before the meeting is called or after the meeting is called. The same could be waived by ratification in which event neither the meeting nor the resolutions passed in the said meetings would be invalidated. Those cases are :

(i) Self Help Private Industrial Estate (P.) Ltd, In re [1974] 42 Comp. Cas. 605 (Mad.); (ii) N.V.R. Nagappa Chettiar v. Madras Race Club [1949] 19 Comp. Cas.175 (Mad.);

(iii) Asansol Electric Supply Co. v. Chunnilal Daw MANU/WB/0004/1972 : AIR1972Cal19 ; (iv) Bharat Kumar Diwali v. Bharat Carbon & Ribbon Mfg. Co. Ltd. MANU/DE/0118/1971; (v) Col. Kuldip Singh Dhillon v. Paragaon Utility Financiers (P.) Ltd [1988] 64 Comp. Cas. 19 p&h.
19. The third category of cases are those cases where a notice was issued and the said notice gave 21 clear days and the same was served on the shareholders but there was no clear 21 days between the service of such notice and the meeting. The cases relied on under this category, where it has been held Section 171 is not mandatory but directory, are : (i) Maharaja Exports v. Apparels Exports Promotion Council MANU/DE/0213/1985 ;

(ii) Shailesh Harilal Shah's case (supra);

(iii) Calcutta Chemical Co. Ltd v. Dhiresh Chandra Roy [1985] 58 Comp. Cas. 275 (Cal.);
20. In the instant case, admittedly, the company has issued notice dated 4-12-2000, fixing the date of the fifth annual general meeting on 30-12-2000. There is a clear 26 days gap between the date of notice and the date of the meeting. It is also demonstrated that the said notice is sent by the secretary on 6-12-2000, i.e., there is a gap of 24 days between the date of despatch and the date of the meeting. The plaintiff unequivocally admits that he received notice on 19-12-2000. His grievance is, he did not have 21 clear days of notice of the meeting after he has been duly served with the notice of the meeting. Therefore, the cases referred to in first and second category supra are of no assistance in deciding the controversies between the parties. As such those judgments are not referred to. Therefore, I have adverted only to those cases falling under the third category which are relevant for the purpose of this case. 21. In the case of Maharaja Exports (supra), it has been held as under :

"Ordinary course of post' in a vast country like ours with many far-flung places at inaccessible distance, where the time taken for delivery of letters varied from place to place induced an element of uncertainty. In order to do away with this state of affairs and to import certainty to such an important matter as to the length of notice of general meetings of companies, legal fiction was pressed into service, by indicating in the 1950 Act, that the notice shall be deemed to have been served 48 hours after posting. The words '48 hours' are meant to make the service certain and to fix the date of service as the date on which the said 48 hours expired. Under these circumstances, as already observed earlier, the notice issued on 27-4-1984, will expire on 29-4-1984, which is well within the phrase '14 days' clear notice'. This aspect can also be looked into from another angle. Sub-section (3) of Section 172 of the Companies Act lays down that even the accidental omission to give

notice to, or the non-receipt of the notice by, any member or other person shall not invalidate the proceedings at the meeting. The 'accidental omission' means that the omission must be not only not designed but also not deliberate. This expression implies absence of intention or deliberate design. The word 'or' appearing in this Sub-clause is of great significance. The company has only to prove on record that they have sent the notice to its members on the addresses furnished by them. The non-receipt of the notice, under no circumstances, shall invalidate the holding of the meeting or the proceedings thereof. In this case, it is the admitted case of the parties that the defendant-company did send the notice and it in fact was received by the plaintiff. Even the non-receipt, as observed earlier, would not have made any difference." (p. 365)
22. In the case of Shailesh Harilal Shah (supra), a Division Bench of the Hon'ble High Court of Bombay has held as under :

"It is, therefore, necessary to examine the object, purpose and scope of Section 171 of the Act to determine whether the requirement is mandatory or directory. The recommendations of the Company Law Committee in paragraphs 75(i) and 78 of the Report indicate that the period of 21 days was provided instead of 14 days as earlier fixed, to enable the shareholders to campaign and canvass the proxies if they so desired. The shareholders required reasonable time to canvass opinion in favour or against the particular resolution proposed to be considered at the meeting of the company. The object, therefore, is obviously to give proper and reasonable opportunity to the shareholders for participating effectively in the meeting. The length of notice, the contents and the manner of service of notice have all been prescribed with this end in view. The fact that Sub-section (2) of Section 171 of the Act enables the shareholders to consent for shorter duration of notice is an indication that the Legislature never thought the length of notice as sacrosanct. Sub-section (2) of Section 171 of the Act indicates that it is for the shareholders to consider and decide whether they have got necessary opportunity of properly participating in a meeting. Sub-section (3) of Section 172 of the Act is an indicator that the Legislature never desired that the proceedings of the meeting should be invalidated merely because notice as prescribed under Sub-section (1) of Section 171 is of insufficient duration. Sub-section (3) of Section 172 of the Act provides that the accidental omission to give notice to, or the non-receipt of notice by, any member should not invalidate the proceedings and that clearly indicates the anxiety of the Legislature not to invalidate the proceedings, even though no prejudice whatsoever is caused to the interest of the shareholders. To hold that the provisions of Section 171(1) of the Act are mandatory would lead to very unusual results and making it difficult for large public companies to effectively function. A couple of shareholders cannot be permitted to defeat the interest of a large body of shareholders by raising contention that the duration of notice was not sufficient and even though such complaints do not indicate any prejudice by service of notice of shorter duration. In our judgment, looking to the object, purpose and scope of provisions of Section 171 of the Act, the conclusion is inescapable that the provision is merely directory and not mandatory." (p. 25)
23. In the case of Calcutta Chemical Co. Ltd. (supra), it has been held as under:

"The question, therefore, is whether Section 171(1) which lays down that 'A general meeting of a company may be called by giving not less than 21 days' noticein writing' is mandatory or not. A shorter notice can be given in the circumstances set out in Subsection (2) of Section 171. Section 172(3) provides: 'The accidental omission to give notice to, or the non-receipt of notice by, any member or other person to whom it should be given shall not invalidate the proceedings at the meeting.' Section 172(3) makes it abundantly clear that it is not a condition precedent to the holding of the annual general meeting of a company that a clear 21 days' notice must be given to each and every member of the company. The accidental omission to give notice to any member or non-receipt of notice by any member shall not invalidate the

proceedings at the meeting. If we have to uphold the contention of the respondent, we shall have to hold that if the notice to a shareholder is not accidentally posted at all, the proceedings at the annual general meeting of a company will be valid. But if the notices were posted accidentally less than 21 days before the meeting, the proceedings at the meeting will be void even though the shareholder received the notice in good time before the meeting was held and actually attended the meeting. If Mr. Dhiresh Chandra Roy did not receive the notice at all, the company could have invoked the protection of the provisions of Section 172(3) of the Act. In our opinion, such a construction would lead to absurdity and should be avoided. We are aware of the dictum that law is not always logic. But the court should be very slow to give a construction to a section which would lead to absurdity and will cause injustice. We are unable to accept the contention that a short notice served on a member will invalidate a meeting altogether but nonreceipt of the notice by a member will not have the same effect." (p. 279)
24. It is also useful to refer to a passage from Maxwell on the Interpretation of Statutes where it has been stated as under :

"It has been said that no rule can be laid down for determining whether the command (of this statute) is to be considered as a mere direction or instruction involving no invalidating consequence in its disregard, or as imperative, with an implied nullification for disobedience, beyond the fundamental one that it depends on the scope and object of the enactment. It may, perhaps, be found generally correct to say that nullification is the natural and usual consequence of disobedience, but the question is in the main governed by considerations of convenience and justice, (R. v. Ingall [1877] 2 QBD 199 at page 208, per Lush, J.) and, when that result would involve general inconvenience or injustice to innocent persons, or advantage to those guilty of the neglect, without promoting the real aim and object of the enactment, such an intention is not to be attributed to the Legislature. The whole scope and purpose of the statute under consideration must be regarded. The general rule, is that an absolute enactment must be obeyed or fulfilled exactly, but it is sufficient if a directory enactment be obeyed or fulfilled substantially."
25. Similarly, the Supreme Court in the case of Hari Vishnu MANU/SC/0095/1954 : [1955]1SCR1104 , has observed as under : Kamath v. Ahmad Ishaque

"26. It is well established that an enactment in form mandatory might in substance be directory, and that the use of the word 'shall' does not conclude the matter. The question was examined at length in Julius v. Bishop of Oxford [1880] 5 AC 214(S), and various rules were laid down for determining when a statute might be construed as mandatory and when as directory. They are well known, and there is no need to repeat them. But they are all of them only aids for ascertaining the true intention of the Legislature which is the determining factor, and that must ultimately depend on the context...." (p. 245)
26. Following the quotations from Crawford on Statutory Construction--article 261 at page 516 is pertinent--United Commercial Bank Ltd. v. CIT MANU/SC/0060/1957 : [1957]32ITR688(SC) :

"The question as to whether a statute is mandatory or directory depends upon the intent of the Legislature and not upon the language in which the intent is clothed. The meaning and intention of the Legislature must govern, and these are to be ascertained, not only from the phraseology of the provision, but also by considering its nature, its design, and the consequences which would follow from construing it the one way or the other...."
27. The following observation of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Montreal Street Railway Company v. Normandin AIR 1917 PC 142, in Raza Buland Sugar Co. Ltd. v. Municipal Board, Rampur MANU/SC/0226/1964 : [1965]1SCR970 is as under :

"The question whether provisions in a statute are directory or imperative has very frequently arisen in this country, but it has been said that no general rule can be laid down, and that in every case the object of the statute must be looked at...When the provisions of a statute relate to the performance of a public duty and the case is such that to hold null and void acts done in

neglect of this duty would work serious general inconvenience, or injustice to persons who have no control over those entrusted with the duty, and at the same time would not promote the main object of the Legislature, it has been the practice to hold such provisions to be directory only, the neglect of them, though punishable, not affecting the validity of the acts done." (p. 899)
28. The Supreme Court in the case of Raza Buland Sugar Co. Ltd. (supra), has observed as under :

"7. The question whether a particular provision of a statute which on the face of it appears mandatory--inasmuch as it uses the word 'shall' as in the present case--or is merely directory cannot be resolved by laying down any general rule and depends upon the facts of each case and for that purpose the object of the statute in making the provision is the determining factor. The purpose for which the provision has been made an4 its nature, the intention of the Legislature in making the provision, the serious general inconvenience or injustice to persons resulting from whether the provision is read one way or the other, the relation of the particular provision to other provisions dealing with the same subject and other considerations which may arise on the facts of a particular case including the language of the provision, have all to be taken into account in arriving at the conclusion whether a particular provision is mandatory or directory." (p. 899)
29. In the aforesaid judgment while dealing with the question whether a particular section could be partly directory or partly mandatory, it is observed as under:

"... The crux of the problem before us is whether all the conditions are to be treated as mandatory or all of them as directory or some of them as of one kind and some of the other kind? What is the test to apply and if a distinction is to be made, on what principle ? In my opinion, the way to look at the matter is this. A tax to be valid must be imposed in accordance with the Municipalities Act. The Act lays down conditions some of which are devised for the protection of the taxpayers and some others for ministerial operations connected with the method or system of imposing the tax or for promoting despatch, efficiency and publicity, etc. All conditions of the first kind must of course, be regarded as mandatory, because they lie at the very root of the exercise of the power. Thus, preparation of assessment rolls, hearing of objections, framing of assessment rules are all mandatory. Similarly, conditions involving the passing of resolutions by the necessary majority at special meetings after proper notice to members are fundamental and cannot be overlooked. If a defect of a fundamental kind occurs it would (in the absence of curative provision) remain even if Government gave its sanction-See Scadding v. Lorant [1851] 3 HLC 418, affirming Sub Nom, Lorant v. Scadding [1849] 13 QB 706 and Joshi Kalidas v. Dakar Town Municipality ILR 7 Bom. 399. Conditions which promote despatch or provide for ministerial operations are usually directory and although compliance with them is also necessary it is sufficient if the compliance is substantial." (p. 904)
30. In the background of the aforesaid legal principles, if we look into the provisions of Sections 171 and 172, it becomes clear that a general meeting of a company may be called by giving not less than 21 days' notice in writing. However, the Legislature provides for calling of a general meeting by giving shorter notice than specified under Sub-section (1) in the manner provided under Section171(2), thereby meaning this 21 days notice is not sacrosanct. Thus, the Legislature, by insertion of Section 171(2) made its intentions very clear that this requirement of Section 171 is not mandatory if the conditions mentioned under Section 171(2) are fulfilled. Section 172 deals with contents and manner of service of notice and the persons to whom it is to be served and it mandates that the notice shall specify the place and the date, and hour of the meeting and shall contain a statement of the business to be transacted thereat. Section 171 is silent about the consequence of not complying with the requirements of the said section either on the general meeting held or resolutions passed in such meeting. On the contrary, Sub-section (3) of Section 172 mandates that the accidental omission to give notice to or the non-receipt of notice by any member or other person to whom it should be given, shall not invalidate the proceedings at the meeting. When the Legislature has deliberately omitted to state that the non-compliance with Section 171 would invalidate the proceedings at the meeting and expressly declares that accidental omission to give notice or non-

receipt of notice shall not invalidate the proceedings at the meeting, the said section cannot be interpreted to mean contrary to the express intention expressed intention expressed by the Legislature. 31. In this context, it is useful to refer to the recommendations of the Company Law Committee in paragraphs 75(i) and 78 of the report which indicates that the period of 21 days was provided instead of 14 days as earlier fixed to enable the shareholders to campaign and canvass the proxies if they so desired and also to canvass opinion in favour or against a particular resolution proposed to be considered at the meeting of the company. The object, therefore, is obviously to give proper and reasonable opportunity to the shareholders for participating effectively in the meeting though from the original period of 14 days it was enhanced to 21 days, by way of amendment this period is essentially meant to give a fair opportunity to the shareholders to prepare themselves to face the meeting- Again the Legislature has not specifically spelt out whether this 21 days notice should be computed from the date of service of notice or from the date of notice itself. Under these circumstances, it is not open to the courts to interpret the said section to mean that 21 days is to be calculated from the date of actual service of notice of the meeting. The giving of a notice, the contents of the notice as specified under Section 172, furnishing a statement of the business to be transacted at the meeting, specifying 21 days between the date of notice and the date of the meeting subject to Section 171(2) and posting of such notice are all within the reach of the company. Therefore, all these requirements are to be complied with by the company and to that extent they are mandatory. 32. Once the notice is posted through an agency, the company loses its control over such notice. The company has to necessarily depend upon that third party agency for due service of notice and if that notice is not served on the shareholders in time, the company cannot be made to suffer. It is also possible that if the addressee is not available at the time of service even that agency to whom this work has been entrusted will be helpless in serving the notice on the shareholders. If the shareholder intends disrupting the meeting and wants to invalidate the resolutions passed in the meeting, he could cleverly avoid receiving the said notice within the stipulated period and he could choose to receive the notice so as to make it appear that after service of notice, he or she had no clear 21 days notice. Under these circumstances, if it is to be held that Section 171 is mandatory and that 21 days must be calculated from the date of service of the notice on the shareholders, it would be humanly impossible to conduct any meeting of the company by complying with the said requirement. Now-a-days there is a overwhelming participation by the public by subscribing to the shares of all companies. It is now possible for anyone to acquire a share of any company. The pattern of allotting shares has been governed by the authorities and thereby the shareholders base with minimum number of shares has been expanded considerably. Therefore, the shareholders who are scattered all over the country have to be reached necessarily by post. Under these circumstances, if 21 days notice contemplated under Section 171 is to be interpreted as mandatory and further it is to be interpreted that from the date of service of notice to each shareholder the meeting is to be held 21 days thereafter, it would be impossible to conduct any general meeting of any company. Such interpretation would result in absurdity, especially when the Legislature consciously did not provide for invalidation of the meeting or resolutions passed in the meeting for want of such 21 days of notice. Therefore, in my opinion, by interpreting Section 171 as mandatory to include in its ambit 21 days' clear notice would be improper. When the notice under Section 171 which otherwise would satisfy the requirements of that section is served on the shareholder and after service if he has reasonable time before the meeting, in my opinion, it would be substantial compliance with the provisions of Section 171. That portion of the provisions regarding service of notice is directory and although compliance with them is also necessary, it is sufficient if the compliance is substantial. 33. The whole object of giving 21 days' notice is to give a reasonable opportunity to the shareholders. If it is demonstrated that such reasonable opportunity has been denied deliberately with mala fide intention and such denial of reasonable opportunity has adversely affected the interest of the shareholders either preventing him from contesting the election or from voting in the election or from campaigning and canvassing the proxies or canvassing the opinion in favour or against a particular resolution, it is always open to the Court on proof of such prejudice to invalidate the proceedings of meetings notwithstanding the fact whether Section 171 is mandatory or not. In the absence of a case of such prejudice being made out, merely on the technical ground that there was no clear notice of 21 days from the date of service of the notice and the meeting neither the meeting nor the proceedings of the meeting could be invalidated. If such a thing is permitted one shareholder can virtually blackmail the company and prevent the company from holding its meeting or passing any resolution, thus, successfully obstructing the proper functioning of the company itself. Certainly that is not the intention

of the Legislature in enacting Section 171. 34. Coming to the case on hand, the company has issued a notice under Section 171. Further the said notice contains all the particulars which are mentioned in Section 172. The notice is dated 4-121999 and the date of the meeting is fixed on 30-12-1999, thereby giving 26 clear days between the date of the meeting and the date of the notice. The said notice was posted through courier and the plaintiff, according to him, received the said notice on 19-12-2000. Therefore, Sections 171 and 172 have been substantially complied with. His grievance is from 19-12-2000, he did not have clear 21 days notice of the meeting and, therefore, the meeting is illegal and the resolutions passed in such notice are illegal. It is not the case of the plaintiff that by such shorter notice he was in any way disabled either in campaigning or canvassing the proxies or in any manner he could not canvass the opinion in favour or against any particular resolution proposed to be considered at the meeting of the company. Absolutely no case of prejudice is either pleaded or demonstrated by the plaintiff. Therefore, it cannot be said that he has made out a prima facie case for grant of an order of temporary injunction in his favour. 35. A reading of the plaint discloses that his grievance is that one S.B. Sidnal has been removed from the directorship of the company illegally without following the procedure and, therefore, he is espousing the cause of removal of the said Sidnal and not himself. It is a proxy fight by the said S.B. Sidnal in the name of the plaintiff. The material on record discloses that the said S.B. Sidnal has filed the suit seeking a declaration that he has been illegally removed from the directorship and he is not able to get any interim order in the said suit and, therefore, the present suit is filed in the name of the petitioner. Therefore, it is clear the petitioner has not come to this Court with clean hands. He is fighting the case of S.B. Sidnal in this suit. Though the meeting notice was served on him on 19-122000, he did not choose to file the suit immediately. He waited till 27-12-2000. Just three days prior to the date of the meeting, in the vacation court, he moved for an interim order. Though in the normal circumstances, nine days would not amount to any delay, in the facts and circumstances of this case and in the absence of any explanation for not moving the Court immediately and in the light of the allegations in the plaint, where the plaintiff is espousing cause of S.B. Sidnal, who, in fact, failed to get any interim order in his suit, this delay of nine days in moving the Court for an equitable relief of injunction to prevent the holding of a meeting to be conducted on 30-12-2000, in my opinion, is material and disentitles him for the grant of an order of temporary injunction. 36. The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that the meeting was held at 9 a.m., which was not the business hour of the company, and the said time was fixed to prevent the shareholders who are living in remote villages from reaching the venue of the meeting has remained only as an assertion without any material on record to substantiate the said contention. It is not the case of the petitioner that because of the holding of the meeting at 9 a.m. he was in any way inconvenienced. Again he is pleading the case of those unknown shareholders who are inconvenienced by such fixing of time. This is yet another circumstance which demonstrates that the petitioner's case is not of a personal injury to him and he is pleading the case for and on behalf of others who are not before this Court. While the trial court granted permission to hold the meeting on 30-12-2000, no attempt was made to get this time changed. In any event that cannot have the effect of invalidating the meeting and the resolutions passed in such meeting without any proof of inconvenience or mala fides. Therefore, I do not find any substance at this stage in the said contention. 37. It was further contended that the Allahabad, Calcutta, Punjab and Haryana and Madras High Courts have held that Section 171 is mandatory and following the said view the trial judge has granted an order of injunction and the Appellate Court could not have interfered with the said discretionary order by relying on the judgment of the Bombay High Court as in the absence of the law declared by the Supreme Court or the judgment of this Court on the point the exercise of discretionary power by the trial court in granting injunction should not have been interfered with by the Appellate Court. I do not find any substance in this submission because as I have set out earlier the judgments of the Allahabad, Calcutta, Punjab and Haryana and Madras High Courts, are not on the point. They are cases where either no notice was issued or the notices issued were defective in the sense from the date of notice till the date of holding of the meeting twenty-one clear days was not given. Therefore, those judgments have no application to the facts of this case. Admittedly, in the instant case, notice is given. Twentyone clear days is mentioned between the date of the notice and the date of the meeting, notice has been duly served on the plaintiff on 19-12-2000. Therefore, the first Appellate Court was right in setting aside the finding of the trial judge based on those aforesaid judgments and in relying on the law laid down by the Bombay High Court.

38. Lastly, it was contended that the order of injunction being discretionary when the trial court has exercised its discretion one way or the other, it should not have been interfered with lightly by the Appellate Court even if the Appellate Court could come to a different conclusion on the same set of facts. In the instant case, there is no dispute on facts. They are admitted. The dispute is with regard to application of law. The trial court had wrongly applied the law laid down by the Allahabad, Calcutta and Punjab and Haryana High Courts to the facts of this case. What is applicable to the case on hand is the law of the Bombay High Court which has been rightly applied by the Appellate Court. Therefore, the Appellate Court was duty-bound to interfere with such finding and has rightly set aside the order of the trial judge and vacated the order of injunction granted by the trial court by applying the correct law on the point. Therefore, no fault could be found with the exercise of jurisdiction by the Appellate Court. 39. For the reasons aforesaid, I do not find any merit in this CRP and, accordingly, the CRP is dismissed. The parties to bear their own costs. Manupatra Information Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Go to top

MANU/MH/0003/1994

Equivalent Citation: AIR1994Bom20, 1994(1)BomCR186, 1993(95)BOMLR205 IN THE HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY Appeal No. 1001 of 1991 in Notice of Motion No. 2132 of 1991 in Suit No. 3003 of 1991 with Appeal No. 1002 of 1991 in N.O.M. No. 2131 of 1991 in Suit No. 3002 of 1991 and 1082 of 1991 in N.M.No. 2158 of 1981 in Suit No. 3139 of 1991 Decided On: 20.04.1993 Appellants:Shailesh Harilal Shah and Others, etc. Vs. Respondent: Matushree Textiles Limited and Others etc. Hon'ble Judges/Coram: M.L. Pendse and A.A. Cazi, JJ. Counsels: For Appellant/Petitioner/Plaintiff: R.A. Kapadia, Mrs. Zia Modi and N.H. Seervai, Advs., i/b M/s. Mehta & Girdharlal, N.G. Thakkar and Milind Sathe, Advs., i/bM/s. Federal & Rashmikant For Respondents/Defendant: K.S. Cooper and R.C. Shah, Advs., i/b M/s. Bankim Desai & Company and T.N. Subramaniam, T.K. Cooper, B.N. Vaishnava and N.J. Devashrayee, Advs., i/bM/s. N.N. vaishnava & Company Subject: Company Catch Words Mentioned IN Acts/Rules/Orders: Companies Act, 1956 - Section 53(2), Companies Act, 1956 - Section 108, Companies Act, 1956 Section 166, Companies Act, 1956 Section 171(1), Companies Act, 1956 Section 172,Companies Act, 1956 Section 173, Companies Act, 1956 Section 205, Companies Act, 1956 - Section 209, Companies Act, 1956 - Section 217, Companies Act, 1956 - Section 252,Companies Act, 1956 - Section 255, Companies Act, 1956 - Section 260, Companies Act, 1956 Section 283(E), Companies Act, 1956 Section 287(2), Companies Act, 1956 Section 290,Companies Act, 1956 Section 300(1), Companies Act, 1956 - Section 301, Companies Act, 1956 - Section 370; Indian Penal Code 1860, (IPC) - Section 409; Indian Contract Act, 1872;Companies Act, 1913 - Section 91B; Constitution of India - Article 75, Constitution of India - Article 81, Constitution of India - Article 88; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) - Order I Rule 8 Cases Referred: R.K. Dalmia v. Delhi Administration, AIR 1962 SC 1821; Firestone Tyre and Rubber Co. v. Synthetics and Chemicals Ltd., (1971) 41 Com Cas 377; Madras tube Company Ltd. v. Hari Kishon Somani, (1985) 1 Com LJ 195; Foster v. Foster, (1916) 1 Ch. 532; Public Prosecutor v. Khaitan, ILR (1957) Mad 665, AIR 1957 Mad 4; Narayandas Shreeram Somani v. Sangli Bank Ltd., AIR 1966 SC 170;Boschoek Proprietary Company, Limited v. Fuke, (1906) 1 Ch. 148; Seth Mohan Lal v. Grain Chambers Ltd., Muzaffarnagar, AIR 1968 SC 772; Sly, Spink & Co., (1911) 2 Ch 430; Ananthalakshmi Ammal v. Indian Trades and Investments Limited, AIR 1953 Mad 467; Fatesh Chand Kad v. Hindsons (Patiala) Ltd., (1957) 27 com Cas 340, AIR 1956 Pepsu 89; Ketan Champaklal Bakshi v. Mrs. Sheella Sidhdharth Balsi, Order No. 929 of 1990; Morris v. N. Kanseen, (1946) 1 All ER 586; R. v. Ingall (1876) 2 QBD 199; Haro Vishnu Kamath v. Ahmad Ishaque, AIR 1955 SC 233; Julias v. Bishop of Oxford, (1880) 5 AC 214; Mannalal Khetan v. Kedar Nath Khetan, AIR 1977 SC 536; Homi Cawasji

Bharucha v. Arjun Prasad, (1957) 27 Com Cas 6, AIR 1956 Patna 364; Pearce, Duff & Co. Ltd., (1960) 3 All ER 222; N.V.R. Nagappa Chettiar v. The Madras Race Club, ILR (1949) Mad 808, AIR 1951 Madras 831(2); Laljibhai C. Kapadia v. Lalji B. Desai, (1973) 43 Com Cas 17, AIR 1972 Bom 276; Mohanlal Ganpatram v. Shri Sayaji Jubilee Cotton and Jute Mills Co. Ltd., AIR 1965 Guj 96 Case Note: Company service of notice Sections 53 (2), 108, 166, 171 (1), 172, 173, 205, 209, 217, 252, 255, 260, 283 (E), 287 (2), 290, 300 (1), 301 and 370 of Companies Act, 1956 plaintiffs sought a declaration that notice convening annual general meeting is ultra vires, invalid and illegal notice was short by one day challenge to business conducted in meetings is without any substance there was no resolution passed at annual general meeting no prejudice caused to plaintiffs held, meeting was not ultra vires, invalid and illegal. ORDER Pendse, J. 1. Matushree Textiles Limited is a Public Limited Company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act') and the authorised share capital of the Company is Rs. 1,50,00,000/- only divided into 15,00,000 equity shares of face value of Rs. 10/- each. The subscribed capital is Rs. 89,00,000/- divided into 8.90 Lakhs shares. The shares of the Company are listed on Bombay Stock Exchange and at the relevant lime, the value quoted was Rs. 40/- per share. The 7th Annual General Meeting of the Company was held on September 30, 1989 for the year ending March 31, 1989 and consequently, the 8th Annual General Meeting was statutorily required to be held as per S. 166 of the Act latest by December 31, 1990. The meeting was not convened by the Company within the stipulated time. The 8th Annual General Meeting for the year ending March 31, 1990 was convened on September 30, 1991 by notice dated September 5, 1991. The notices to the shareholders was sent by post on September 7, 1991 and under S. 53(2)(b)(i) of the Act, the notice is deemed to have been effected at the expiration of forty eight hours alter the letter is posted and accordingly, the notice is deemed to have been served on September 9, 1991. The plaintiffs instituted Suit No. 3002 of 1991 on September 21, 1991 for a declaration that defendants Nos. 1 to 4 are not entitled to convene 8th Annual General Meeting on September 30, 1991 or any other date as calling of the said meeting is ultra vires and null and void. The plaintiffs sought a declaration that notice dated September 2, 1991 convening the Annual General Meeting is ultra vires, invalid and illegal. The plaintiffs sought a perpetual injunction restraining defendants from holding and/or proceeding with the Annual General Meeting and from in any manner giving effect or acting upon in furtherance of implementation of the resolutions to be passed at the meeting. The plaintiffs are holders of 3110 equity shares and their holding is 0.3% of the total equity subscribed. The defendant No. 1 is the Company, while defendants Nos. 2 to 4 are the Directors. The notice of 8th Annual General Meeting sets out that the following subjects will be transacted at the meeting :

1. To receive and adopt Audited Profit & Loss Account and the Balance Sheet together with reports of Directors and Auditors thereon.

2. To appoint a Director in place of Mr. Vimal Kumar Poddar who retires by rotation and is eligible for re-appointment. 3. To appoint Auditors and to authorise the Board to fix their remuneration. 4. To pass ordinary resolution appointing Mr. Santosh Kumar Poddar as a Director, and 5. to pass ordinary resolution appointing Rajnikant Mehta as Director.
2. The plaintiffs complained that the 8th Annual General Meeting convened on September 30, 1991 was proposed to be held beyond the statutory period contemplated under S. 166 of the Act and, therefore, the Company is not entitled to call meeting unless appropriate orders are obtained from appropriate forum seeking extension of time. The plaintiffs further claimed that notice dated September 2, 1991 and which was deemed to have been served on September 9, 1991 for convening the meeting on September 30, 1991 does not comply with the requirement of S. 171 of the Act as the duration of notice is less than 21 clear days. The plaintiffs further claimed that defendant No. 2

Santoshkumar Poddar ceased to be the Director of the Company as from January 1, 1991 and his appointment as Additional Director pursuant to the resolution of the Board of Directors was bad in law. The plaintiffs claimed that on retirement of defendant No. 2, the Board was not properly constituted as the minimum number of Directors required is 3 in number. The plaintiffs further claimed that the quorum required was two and defendants Nos. 2 and 3 being real brothers and closely related, it was not open for defendant No. 3 to participate in the meeting for appointment of defendant No. 2. The plaintiffs claimed that the resolution appointing defendant No. 2 as additional Director was vitiated as there was no quorum required by the Act. The plaintiffs further claimed that if the appointment of defendant No. 2 was illegal and bad, the notice convening Annual GeneralMeeting signed by defendant No. 2 is bad in law and inoperative. The plaintiffs further claimed that the Company had deliberately circulated an abridged balance sheet so as to cover up the acts of misconduct, misfeasance and malfeasance indulged by defendants Nos. 2 to 4. The plaintiffs claimed that the perusal of the Auditor's report and Notes on accounts makes it very clear that the substratum of defendant No. 1 has disappeared and defendants Nos. 2 to 4 are mismanaging the Company. 3. The plaintiffs instituted Suit No. 3003 of 1991 in respect of 9th Annual General Meeting for the year ending March 31, 1991 convened on September 30, 1991 by notice dated September 2, 1991. The notices were issued by the Company to convene both 8th and 9th Annual General Meetings on the same date and both the meetings were also to be held on the same date, i.e. September 30, 1991. Suit No. 3003 of 1991 challenges the right of the Company to hold 9th Annual General Meeting for identical reasons as set out in companion Suit No. 3002 of 1991. The notice for convening 9th Annual General Meeting sets out the following agenda :

1. To receive and adopt audited Profits and Loss Account for the year ended March 31, 1991. 2. To declare a dividend.

3. To appoint a Director in place of Mr. Rajanikant Mehta, who retires by rotation and being eligible offers himself for re-appointment. 4. To appoint auditors and authorise the Board to fix their remuneration. 5. To consider whether authorised share capita! of the Company be increased from Rs. 1,50,00,000/- to Rs. 2,00,00,000/-, divided into 20,00,000/- shares of Rs. 10/- each. 6. To issue 8,90,000 Rights shares at the face value of Rs. 10/- to the existing share holders, and 7. To authorise the Board of Directors to make loans to any body corporate from time to time and on such terms and conditions as the Directors may deem fit, provided that the aggregate of the loans outstanding at any one time made to the Company shall not exceed 30% of the aggregate of the subscribed share capital of the Company.
4. Suit No. 3139 of 1991 was instituted on September 30, 1991 by Arunkumar Poddar and Rajkumar Bajaj and to whom the plaintiffs in other two suits are closely related and/or friends. Arunkumar Poddar is the real brother of defendants Nos. 2 and 3 --Santoshkumar and Vimalkumar Poddar respectively. Arunkumar Poddar and Rajkumar Bajaj claimed that initially, they were Directors of the Company but defendants Nos. 2 to 4 illegally claimed that they had ceased to be Directors by virtue of S. 283(E) of the Act by operation of law. It was claimed that the contention of defendants Nos. 2 to 4 that Arunkumar Poddar and Rajkumar Bajaj failed to attend the meetings and, therefore, eased to be Directors is not correct. Arunkumar Poddar and Rajkumar Bajaj, apart from seeking a declaration that they continue to be the Directors of the Company and all meetings of the Board of Directors held without their presence were illegal and invalid and resolutions non est sought relief in respect of 8th and 9th Annual General Meetings convened on September 30, 1991. The relief in respect of these two meetings was based on same averments which were made in the two companion suits. It hardly requires to be stated that the dispute between Arunkumar Poddar and his two brothers had led to the institution of three suits. It is required to be stated at this juncture that at one stage, the dispute between the three brothers was referred to a spiritual leader in which the brothers had confidence, but the decision of the spiritual leader was not accepted by Arunkumar Poddar and the parties decided to

fight out the litigation in Court. 5. Two Notices of Motion being Notice of Motion No. 2131 of 1991 and Notice of Motion No. 2132 of 1991 were taken out by the plaintiffs in Suits Nos. 3002 and 3003 of 1991 respectively seeking interim relief restraining the Company from holding and/or proceeding with 8th and 9th Animal General Meetings convened on September 30, 1991. The plaintiffs also sought relief restraining the defendants from implementation of the resolution and business proposed to be transacted at the said Annual General Meetings. Notice of Motion No. 2158 of 1991 was taken out by Arunkumar Poddar in Suit No. 3139 of 1991 for identical reliefs. The plaintiffs applied for grant of ad interim relief pending the disposal of Notice of Motion, but the learned trial Judge declined to grant any ad interim relief. The plaintiffs thereupon preferred appeals before Division Bench of this Court and the Division Bench granted ad interim relief only in respect of prayer restraining the defendants from implementing the resolution to be passed at the two Annual General Meetings. As the Court declined to restrain the defendants from holding and proceeding with the two Annual General Meetings, it is not in dispute that the Meetings were held on September 30, 1991. Though Arunkumar had lodged proxies prior to the date of the meetings, neither Arunkumar Poddar, nor any of the plaintiffs in the three suits attended the meetings. The resolutions proposed in the meetings were passed unanimously. The Notices of Motion were taken up for hearing by learned single Judge after date of the two meetings and the question which survived for consideration was whether the Company should be restrained from implementing the resolutions which were passed. The resolutions providing for increase of share capital and issuance of Rights shares and distribution of dividend could not be implemented because of grant of ad interim order. The defendants resisted the relief sought by the plaintiffs in respect of implementation of resolutions by urging that the contentions urged by the plaintiffs in respect of validity of the notice convening two Annual General Meetings cannot be sustained. The defendants pointed out that though the statutory period contemplated by S. 166 of theCompanies Act for convening Annual General Meeting had expired, still there is no prohibition under the Act to convene the meeting and the company at the most would be liable to a penalty for convening a meeting beyond the statutory period. The Company did not seriously dispute that notice under S. 171 of the Act was not of clear 21 days but for 20 days only, but urged that the provisions of S. 171 of the Act are not mandatory but merely directory and the business transacted at the two meetings should not be struck down unless the plaintiffs establish any prejudice. The defendants pointed out that the plaintiffs have not even pleaded prejudice due to shorter duration of the notice. The defendants also pointed out that the appointment of defendant No. 2 as additional Director could not be violated and there is ample power under the Act for the existing members of the Board to make appointment. The contention of the plaintiffs that quorum was not available and, therefore, appointment of defendant No. 2 is invalid was controverted and it was asserted that even though defendant No. 3 was related to defendant No. 2, there was no prohibition for defendant No. 3 to vote at the meeting because the appointment of defendant No. 2 as additional Director did not amount to contract or any other arrangement as prescribed by S. 300 of the Act. The trial Judge by order dated October 15, 1991 found prima facie merit in the contentions urged on behalf of the defendants and held that the convening of the two Annual General Meetings did not suffer from any defect and it was not necessary to prevent the company from implementing the resolutions which were unanimously passed at the two Annual General Meetings. As a result of this finding, the trial Judge dismissed the two Motions. The third Motion taken out by Arunkumar Poddar also ended in dismissal by separate order dated October 15, 1991. It is required to be stated that in the Notice of Motion taking out by Arunkumar Poddar only two grounds were urged; one being that the dividend was declared in contravention of provisions of S. 205 of the Act, and the second that the Director's report does not set out true, fair and correct picture of the Company and window dressing is attempted to make a show that the Company is making profit, while, in fact, the Company is sick unit. The Trial Judge did not find favour with the contentions of the plaintiffs. 6. Appeals Nos. 1001 and 1002 of 1991 are filed by the plaintiffs in Suits Nos. 3003 and 3002 of 1991 respectively, while appeal No. 1082 of 1991 is filed by Arunkumar Poddar from order passed on Notice of Motion No. 3139 of 1991. After the appeals were argued for some time, the counsel realised that though the appeals are against order declining to grant interim relief pending the suit, the decision would affect the result of the suit. The counsel thereupon informed that the parties do not wish to lead any evidence in Suits Nos. 3002 and 3003 of 1991 and requested that the decision in the appeals should be treated as binding on the parties as decision in the suit and the suit should be disposed of accordingly. In Appeal No. 1082 of 1991, the counsel stated that the decision in other two appeals

would conclude the parties in respect of challenge to the holding of 8th and 9th Annual General Meetings and Suit No. 3139 of 1991 will proceed in respect of other reliefs sought by Arunkumar Poddar, we called upon the parties to file statements in writing duly signed by the parties and accordingly, the parties have filed the statements. The statement in Appeals Nos. 1001 and 1002 of 1991 is taken on record and marked as 'X' in appeals, while statement in Appeal No. 1082 of 1991 is taken on record and marked 'X-1'. It is obvious that the parties adopted this course as the contentions raised in the plaint and on the strength of which interim relief was sought, were argued at length and the decision, one way or the other would conclude the parties at the trial and which trial is unlikely to be held within a short time. In accordance with the desire of the parties, we have heard the appeals and the decision would dispose of two suits being Suits Nos. 3002 and 3003 of 1991, while the decision would conclude the parties in third suit, viz. Suit No.3139 of 1991. 7. Shri Kapadia, learned counsel for the plaintiffs in the two suits and Shri Thakkar, learned counsel appearing for the plaintiffs in suit instituted by Arunkumar Poddar and Rajkumar Bajaj, raised four or five contentions to urge that the 8th and 9th Annual General Meetings held by the Company were illegal and contrary to law. The first contention urged by the learned counsel is that the notice signed by defendant No. 2 as Chairman and convening the meeting was illegal as the appointment of defendant No. 2 -- Santoshkumar was illegal and consequently, the notice convening meeting was not valid. It was contended that defendant No. 2 had vacated the office of Director on December 31, 1990 in accordance with S. 255 of the Act. The Section, inter alia, provides that the Directors shall retire by rotation unless the articles provide for the retirement of all directors at every annual general meeting. The meeting of the Board of Directors was held on January 1, 1991 and the minutes of the-meetings disclose that defendants Nos. 2 to 4 were present. The fact that Santoshkumar retires on December 31, 1990 by rotation was noticed and the minutes establish that defendant No. 3 who is the real brother of Santoshkumar requested the Board that Santoshkumar be appointed as an additional Director for reasons set out in the minutes. The resolution appointing Santoshp kumar Poddar -- defendant No. 2 -- as additional Director was passed unanimously by the two remaining Directors being defendants Nos. 3 and 4. Shri Kapadia submitted that defendant No. 2 could not have been appointed as additional Director in a meeting in which defendant No. 3 was present and voted because defendant No. 3 was interested in the resolution for appointment of defendant No. 2 and, therefore, was not entitled to participate in accordance with provisions of S. 300 of the Act. It was also contended that if defendant No. 3 is excluded from the meeting in respect of the resolution of appointment of defendant No. 2 as additional Director, then the meeting could not have been held for want of quorum. Shri Kapadia further submitted that once defendant No. 2 retired by rotation, then the remaining two Directors could not be considered as constituting a valid Board of Directors, the minimum number to constitute the Board being 3 in accordance with S. 252(1) of the Act. It was urged that the meeting held was invalid and the balance sheets and notices signed by defendant No. 2 were contrary to law and consequently, the two Annual General Meetings were not properly convened. Shri Cooper, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the defendants, controverted the submissions by claiming that the challenge to the appointment of defendant No. 2 as additional Director is without any merit because the participation of defendant No. 3 was not in contravention of provisions of S. 300 of the Act. It was urged that appointment of defendant No. 2 as additional Director is neither a contract nor arrangement entered into by or on behalf of the Company. Shri Cooper further submitted that the contention that Board was not properly constituted is not correct but even otherwise, it amounts only to an irregularity and the notice convening the Annual General Meetings or the resolutions passed in those Meetings cannot be invalidated in view of the provisions of S. 290 of the Act and Regulation 85 of Table 'A' of Schedule I to the Act. Shri Cooper further submitted that the challenge to the appointment of defendant No. 2 as additional Director cannot be entertained at the behest of the plaintiffs and it is only the Company who may be able to challenge it or in an action instituted by the shareholders on behalf of the Company. The suits instituted by individual shareholders cannot nullify the resolutions passed in Annual General Meetings and the plaintiffs cannot be permitted to defeat the rights of the shareholders for Their own grievances against the Board of Directors. 8. Section 252 of the Act, inter alia, provides that every Public Company shall have at least three Directors and S. 287(2) of the Act sets out that the quorum for a meeting of the Board of Directors shall be one-third of the total strength or two directors, whichever is higher. Section 300(1) prescribes that no director of a company shall as a director take any part in the discussion of, or vote on, any contract or arrangement entered into by and on behalf of the Company if he is in any way, whether

directly or indirectly, concerned or interested in the contract or arrangement. Sub-section (4) of S. 300 provides that every director who knowingly contravenes the provisions of sub-section shall be punishable with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees. Shri Kapadia submitted that a Director of the company is an agent and consequently, the appointment of the Director amounts to contract, the contract being between the principal and the agent. In support of the submission, reliance is placed on the decision reported in MANU/SC/0110/1962 : [1963]1SCR253 R.K. Dalmia v. Delhi Administration. In the case before the Supreme Court, Dalmia and another was prosecuted for offence under S. 409 of the Indian Penal Code and it was contended on behalf of the accused that he was not entrusted with dominion over the funds. While examining the contention, the Supreme Court referred to the passages from Palmer's Company Law and observed that Directors are not only agents but they are in some sense and to some extent trustees and consequently, the accused were entrusted with the dominion over the funds. Reference was also made to the decision of this Court reported in (1971) 41 Comp Cas 377 Firestone Tyre and Rubber Co. v. Synthetics and Chemicals Ltd. where it was held while examining provisions of S. 300(1) of the Act that it is immaterial whether the interest is a personal interest or arises out of a fiduciary capacity and actual conflict is also not necessary and the possibility of conflict is enough. It was further held that the interest or concern need not be direct, but may be indirect as the object intended to be attained and enactment is to prevent the conflict between interest and duty which might otherwise inevitably arise. Shri Kapadia submitted that even assuming that the appointment of an additional Director docs not amount to a contract, still there is no escape for the conclusion that it amounts to an arrangement and referred to the decision of Madras High Court reported in (1985) 1 Com LJ 195Madras Tube Company Ltd. v. Hari Kishon Somam. The learned single Judge of the Madras High Court referred to the decision reported in (1916) 1 Ch. 532 (Foster v. Foster and held that mere appointment as the Director on the Board does not amount to a contract between the Company and the person to be appointed. It was held that additional Director is appointed in exercise of powers reserved with the Board in that behalf in the Company's articles and consequently, the appointment would not make it a contract. The learned single Judge then proceeded to examine as to whether the appointment amounts to an arrangement and explained the earlier decision of the Madras High Court reported in ILR MANU/TN/0064/1957 : AIR1957Mad4 Public Prosecutor v. Khaitan where Justice Rajagopalan Ayyangar, as he then was, held that any interest in an arrangement within the meaning of the section, although classic in expression, must, in the context, receive the interpretation that it must be of such a nature as to involve a conflict between interest and duty of the same type as would arise in the case of personal pecuniary interest in the contracts of the Company. The learned single Judge felt that the arrangement cannot be equated with the contract and the arrangement denotes all kinds of legal relationship which are not covered by a contractual relationship and all kinds of concern or interest arising out of such arrangement. Shri Kapadia relying upon the observations of the learned Judge submitted that the appointment of additional Director should be treated as an arrangement falling under S. 300 of the Act and consequently, defendant No. 3 who is the real brother of defendant No. 2 had interest in the appointment of defendant No. 2 and was, therefore, not entitled to discuss or vote on the resolution. It is not possible to accede to the submission of the learned counsel. It is undoubtedly true as held by the Supreme Court that the Director is an agent of the company but the assumption of the plaintiffs that the relationship of principal and agent can be created only by contract is not accurate. The relationship can be created by operation of law and in such cases, the relationship cannot be treated as a contract. The Director is treated as an agent or a trustee by operation of law and not because the Company or shareholders have entered into contractual relationship with the person proposed to be appointed as a Director. We are in agreement with the view expressed by the learned single Judge of Madras High Court that the appointment of additional Director does not amount to a contract as contemplated by S. 300(1) of the Act. It is also not possible to accede to the submission of Shri Kapadia that in any event the appointment of a Director amounts to an arrangement under S. 300(1). The observation of Justice Rajagopalan Ayyangar that the arrangement within the meaning of Section must receive the interpretation that it must be of such a nature as would arise in the case of personal pecuniary nature in the context of the Company is accurate and the expression 'arrangement' must bear the meaning of it as in Ss. 209 and 301 of the Act. S. 301 demands that every Company shall keep one or more registers in which shall be entered separately particulars of all contracts or arrangements and the particulars to be entered arc the date of the contract or arrangement, the names of the parties thereto, the principal terms and conditions thereof, etc. It is impossible to accept that the appointment of the Director amounts to an arrangement and it is required to be entered in the Register maintained by the Company under S. 301 of the Act. Shri Cooper pointed out that none of the Companies have entered

such appointments in the register maintained under S. 301 of the Act because the arrangement contemplated under S. 300 though directly not a contract must take the colour from the context of contractual relationship contemplated under the Section. The arrangement is something akin to a contract though not strictly contract as contemplated by the Contract Act. There is one more aspect which cannot be overlooked. What Section 300(1) prescribes is a contractual arrangement entered into 'by or on behalf of the Company' and it is impossible to suggest that appointment of additional Director is by and on behalf of the Company. The Section postulates that the contract or arrangement is by the Company or on behalf of the Company and that means that the Company is one of the contracting party or party to the arrangement. The Company is not a party for making appointment of a person as director; nor the appointment is on behalf of Company. To accept the submission that the appointment of additional Director amounts to contract or arrangement, it would be necessary to conclude that such a contract or arrangement is by or on behalf of the Company, and it is not possible to do so. In our judgment, the contention that defendant No. 3 could not have participated in discussion or vote on the resolution to appoint defendant No. 2 as additional Director in view of prohibition of S. 300(1), therefore, cannot be accepted. Shri Cooper, in this connection, submitted that in spite of the fact that defendant No. 3 was a relation of defendant No. 2 and even assuming that the appointment of defendant No. 2 as additional Director amounts to contract or arrangement, still the participation of defendant No. 3 in the appointment can at the most be treated as irregularity. It was urged that such an irregularity cannot be questioned by an individual shareholder but it is permissible only for the Company to challenge the action or acts done in pursuance of such irregularity. In support of the submission, reliance was placed on the decision reported in MANU/SC/0043/1965 : [1965]3SCR777 Narayandas Shreeram Somani v. Sangli Bank Ltd. The Supreme Court was examining the scope and object of S. 91B of the Companies Act, 1913, which, finer alia, provided that a Director shall not vote on any contract or arrangement in which he is directly or indirectly interested, unless authorised by the Company's articles. The Supreme Court held that in case such a Director casts his vote, the same should not be counted and his presence would not count towards the quorum. It was further held that if an interested Director votes and without his vote being counted, there is no quorum, the meeting would be irregular, and the contract sanctioned at such meeting would be voidable by the Company against the Director and any other contracting party who has notice of the irregularity. The Supreme Court held that the Company may, however, waive the irregularity and affirm the transaction. The Supreme Court then observed :

"The contract becomes liable to be avoided by the company against the directors and any other contracting party having notice of the irregularity. The object of S. 91 B is to protect the company; and the company may, if it chooses, waive the irregularity and affirm the contract."
Shri Cooper submits and in our judgment, with considerable merit, that the participation of defendant No. 3 and casting of the vote to elect defendant No. 2 as an additional Director at the most was an irregularity and that cannot vitiate the appointment of defendant No. 2 or his acting as Director and signing the balance sheet and notice convening the Annual General Meeting. The irregularity cannot be questioned by an individual shareholder as long as the Company does not question the appointment of defendant No. 2. 9. Shri Cooper then submitted that the acts done by defendant No. 2 as a Director in signing the balance sheet and convening the two Annual General Meetings are valid in spite of the alleged defect in appointment of defendant No. 2 and relied upon the provisions of S. 290 of the Act and Regulation 80. Section 290 of the Act, inter alia, provides that acts done by a person as a director shall be valid, notwithstanding that it may afterwards be discovered that his appointment was invalid by reason of any defect or disqualification by virtue of any provision contained in this Act or in the articles. Regulation 80 inter alia, prescribes that all acts done by any meeting of the Board or by any person acting as a Director, shall, not with standing that it may afterwards be discovered that there was some defect in the appointment shall be valid as if such Director had been duly appointed. Shri Cooper submits that in view of the provisions of S. 290 and Regulation 80, even assuming that the contention of the plaintiffs in respect of appointment of defendant No. 2 is correct, still the acts done by defendant No. 2 in convening the two Annual General Meetings are required to be treated as valid. Reliance was placed on the decision reported in (1906) 1 Ch. 148 Boschoek Proprietary Company, Limited v. Fuke. Article 84 of the Company in that case was almost in the identical terms with Regulation 80. There was a challenge to the resolutions passed convening the Annual General Meeting on the ground that the meeting was convened by de facto Directors. The contention was that there was no duly constituted board which could validly convene the Annual General Meeting of the Company, as the meeting was

called by persons who were merely de facto Directors. It was held that the resolution for calling the meeting was passed at the Board meeting; the notice of it was duly sent to every shareholders, and one of the objects of the meeting was to confirm the acts therefore done by persons purporting to act as directors, and in these circumstances, any informality in convening the meeting should be treated as a mere irregularity, and not sufficient to invalidate any resolution passed at the Annual General Meeting. The decision refers to several earlier decisions. In MANU/SC/0025/1967 : [1968]2SCR252 Seth Mohan Lal v. Grain Chambers Ltd., Muzaffarnagar, the scope of Regulation 94 of Table 'A' to the First Schedule of the Companies Act, 1913 and which is similar to Regulation 80 of Table 'A' of schedule 1 to the Companies Act, 1956 came up for consideration and it was decided that in absence of evidence that the Directors were aware of the disqualification which would be incurred by entering into contracts of sale or purchase or supply of goods with the Company, the resolution passed by the Directors in respect of such contracts cannot be invalidated. In our judgment, even assuming that the resolution appointing defendant No. 2 as additional Director amounts to a contract or an arrangement as covered by S. 300 of the Act, still the appointment of defendant No. 2, at the most, would be irregular due to the participation of defendant No. 3 but the acts done by defendant No. 2 and especially in convening the Annual Genera! Meeting cannot be struck down at the behest of some shareholders. 10. Shri Kapadia contended that the meeting held on June 1, 1991 by the Directors of the Company and in which meeting, defendant No. 2 Santoshkumar was appointed as an additional Director was illegal and invalid as the Board was not properly constituted. It was urged that S. 252 of the Act demands that every Public Company shall have at least three Directors and on retirement of defendant No.2 on December 31, 1990, there was no existing Board as defendants Nos. 3 and 4 were the only Directors left. In absence of at least three Directors, claims Shri Kapadia, there was no validly constituted board and consequently, the meeting held on January 1, 1991 was invalid and so also the resolution passed by the two Directors, i.e. defendants Nos. 3 and 4 to appoint defendant No. 2 as additional Director. Shri Kapadia submitted that the trial Judge was in error in referring to the provisions of Regulation 75 of Table 'A' of First Schedule to the Act. Regulation 75 reads as under :

"The continuing directors may act notwithstanding any vacancy in the Board; but, if and so long as their number is reduced below the quorum fixed by the Act for a meeting of the Board, the continuing directors or director may act for the purpose of increasing the number of directors to that fixed for the quorum or of summoning a general meeting of the company, but for no other purpose."
It was contended that Regulation 75 comes into picture when the number of continuing Directors is reduced below the quorum and the continuing directors can act for the purpose of increasing number of Directors to that fixed for quorum or of summoning a General Meeting. Shri Kapadia submitted that on retirement of defendant No. 2, the continuing Directors were only defendants Nos. 3 and 4 and to constitute a quorum in accordance with S. 252(2), there must be at least two Directors, but defendants Nos. 3 and 4 could not constitute a quorum because defendant No. 3 was interested in appointment of defendant No. 2 as additional director and therefore not entitled to participate. It was further submitted that Regulation 75 can be attracted provided the continuing Directors act for the purpose of increasing the number of Directors to constitute quorum or for summoning Annual General Meeting and neither of that purpose was in existence on January 1, 1991 and consequently, the meeting held and in which defendant No. 2 was nominated as additional Director was illegal. Shri Cooper controverted the submission by urging that notwithstanding the fact that the strength of continuing Directors has fallen less than the minimum number prescribed by S. 252(1) of the Act, it is open for the continuing Directors to co-opt more Directors. In support of the submission, reliance was placed on case reported in (1911) 2 Ch 430 (In re Sly, Spink & Co.). The provisions of Article 88 of Association of Company, in that case, enabled the continuing Directors to act notwithstanding any vacancy in their Body for the purpose of increasing number of Directors for constituting quorum or of summoning a general meeting of the company but for no other purpose. The question as to whether Art. 88 was attracted arose for determination. The articles of the company provided that the number of directors should not be less than four. The learned Judge found that there were never more than three Directors and the three Directors carried on the business of the Company from the inception. Reliance was placed on Art. 88 to claim that the three continuing Directors can summon the meeting. The contention was not accepted by reliance on two earlier decisions where clear distinction was made between the cases where Directors too few in number can and cannot act as continuing Directors. It was observed :

"In one case you have a board insufficient in number from the first, and notwithstanding the continuing clause it was held that the board could not transact business. In the other case you have a board which was originally competent to transact business but was diminished by retirement to a number less than that provided for by the articles. The continuing clause was held to apply and those directors were held to be competent to transact the business of the company."
The decision undoubtedly supports the contention of the defendants that the continuing Directors, i.e. defendants Nos. 3 and 4 were entitled to nominate defendant No. 2 as additional Director and the Board was properly constituted. Reference can be usefully made to decision reported in MANU/TN/0231/1953 : AIR1953Mad467 Ananthalakshmi Ammal v. Indian Trades and Investments Limited where Mr. Justice Venkatarama Aiyar, as he then was, held that the power to co-opt a Director might be exercised notwithstanding that the strength of the directorate has fallen below the minimum required and below the quorum prescribed by the Articles of Association. In that case, the contention was that there was only one Director, there was no Board of Directors as required by Art. 75and that, therefore, there could be no valid co-option as the power to co-opt could only be exercised by the Board. In answer to the contention, reliance was placed on Art. 81 which provided that the continuing Directors may act notwithstanding any vacancy in their Body but only to ensure that number does not fall below the minimum and except in emergencies. The learned Judge, after considering a large number of English decisions, referred to the decision in (1911) 2 Ch 430 with approval. We are in respectful agreement with the view taken by the Division Bench of Madras High Court. An identical view was taken in (1957) 27 Com Cas 340 : AIR 1956 Pepsu 89 Fateh Chand Kad v. Hindsons (Patiala) Ltd. It is, therefore, not possible to accede to the submission of Shri Kapadia that the Board of Directors was not properly constituted at the meeting held on January 1, 1991 and the continuing Directors could not have nominated defendant No. 2 as additional Director. Shri Kapadia referred to unreported decision dated January 15, 1991 delivered by single Judge of this Court in Appeal From Order No. 929 of 1990 Ketan Champaklal Bakshi v. Mrs. Sheela Sidhdharth Balsi. The decision has no application because in that case, the Board was never validly constituted at any stage. The learned Judge held that the principle that the acts done by any person acting as Director are valid when the appointment was afterwards found to be defective has no application to a case where there has been total absence of appointment or fraudulent usurpation of authority and referred to the decision in (1946) 1 All ER 586 Morris v. N. Kanseen. The decision of House of Lords in Morris v. Kanssen and others has no application to the facts of the present case, as it is not the claim of the plaintiffs that the Board of Directors was not properly constituted prior to January 1, 1991. In our judgment, the meeting held on January 1, 1991 was legal and valid and the action of defendants Nos. 3 and 4 as continuing Directors in nominating defendant No. 2 as additional Director does not suffer from any infirmity. The contention of the plaintiffs that the signing of the balance sheet and the notices convening 8th and 9th Annual General Meetings of the Company by defendant No. 2 was vitiated and, therefore, the resolutions passed at the meetings should be struck down cannot be accepted. 11. The second contention urged by Shri Kapadia is that the notices dated September 2, 1991 issued under S. 171 of the Act for convening 8th and 9th Annual General Meetings on September 30, 1991 was not of sufficient duration and, therefore, the resolutions passed at the meetings are illegal and inoperative. It is not in dispute that S. 171(1) of the Act provides that the General Meeting of the Company may be called by not less than 21 days' notice in writing. Sub-sec. (2) of S. 171 provides that the General Meeting may be called after giving shorter notice if consent is accorded thereto by all the members entitled to vote thereat. Sub-sec. (3) of S. 172 provides that the accidental omission to give notice to, or the non-receipt of notice by, any member or other person to whom it may be given shall not invalidate the proceedings at the meeting. The two notices convening the two meetings are dated September 2, 1991, but were posted on September 7, 1991 and were received by the plaintiffs on September 12, 1991. In view of the deeming provision under S. 53(2)(b)(i) of the Act, the notice is deemed to have been served on the shareholders on September 9, 1991. Shri Kapadia submitted that the notice did not provide for clear 21 days 'period before convening of the Annual General Meetings on September 30, 1991. The learned counsel urged that although none of the plaintiffs attended the Annual General Meetings and the resolutions were passed unanimously, the provisions of sub-sec. (2) enabling the Company to give a shorter notice is not attracted because consent is not given by all the share-holders entitled to vote and that cannot be construed as only those shareholders who were present at the meeting. Shri Kapadia submitted that the provisions of Sub-sec. (1) of S. 171 of the Act

are mandatory and non-compliance automatically vitiates the meetings as well as the resolutions passed therein. Shri Cooper, on the other hand, submitted that the provisions of S. 171(1) of the Act are merely directory in nature and unless and until it is established that the shorter duration of the notice has caused prejudice to substantial number of shareholders, it is not permissible to declare the meetings as illegal and strike down the resolutions passed therein. The rule as to whether particular provision can be regarded as mandatory or directory is set out in celebrated passage from Maxwell on the Interpretation of Statute in the following terms :

"It has been said that no rule can be laid down for determining whether the command (of this statute) has to be considered as a mere direction or instruction involving no invalidating consequence in its disregard or as imperative with an implied nullification for disobedience, beyond the fundamental one that it depends on the scope and object of the enactment. It may, perhaps, be found generally correct to say that nullification is the natural and usual consequence of disobedience, but the question is in the main governed by consideration of convenience and justice (R. v. Ingall (1876) 2 QBD 199, and, when that result would involve general inconvenience or injustice to innocent persons or advantage of those guilty of the neglect, without promoting the real aim and object of the enactment, such an intention is not to be attributed to the Legislature. The whole scope and purpose of the statute under consideration must be regarded. The general rule is that an absolute enactment must be obeyed or fulfilled exactly, but it is sufficient if a directory enactment be obeyed or fulfilled substantially."
The rule has been applied in several cases in India by Supreme Court and it is necessary to bear in mind the objects, purpose and scope of the provision to determine whether it is mandatory or merely directory. Even if the penalty is prescribed for non-compliance, that itself is not sufficient to treat the provision as mandatory. The Supreme Court in MANU/SC/0095/1954 : [1955]1SCR1104 CHari Vishnu Kamath v. Ahmad Ishaqye) observed :

"It is well established that in an enactment in form mandatory might in substance be directory, and that the use of the word 'shall' does not conclude the matter. This question was examined at length in Julias v. Bishop of Oxford, (1880) 5 AC 214, and various rules were laid down for determining when a statute might be construed as mandatory and when as directory. They are well known and there is no need to repeat them. But they are, all of them, only aids for ascertaining the true intention of the Legislature which is the determining factor, and that must ultimately depend on the context."
It is, therefore, necessary to examine the object, purpose and scope of S. 171 of the Act to determine whether the requirement is mandatory or directory. The recommendations of Company Law Committee in Paragraphs 75(i) and 78 of the Report indicates that the period of 21 days was provided instead of 14 days as earlier fixed to enable the shareholders to campaign and canvass the proxies if they so desired. The shareholders required reasonable time to canvass opinion in favour or against the particular resolution proposed to be considered at the meeting of the Company. The object, therefore, is obviously to give proper and reasonable opportunity to the shareholders for participating effectively in the meeting. The length of notice, the contents and the manner of service of notice have all been prescribed with this end in view. The fact that sub-sec. (2) of S. 171 of the Act enables the shareholders to consent for shorter duration of notice is an indication that Legislature never thought the length of notice as sacrosanct. Sub-section (2) of S. 171 of the Act indicates that it is for the shareholders to consider and decide whether they have got necessary opportunity of properly participating in a meeting. Sub-sec. (3) of S. 172 of the Act is an indicator that the Legislature never desired that the proceedings of the meeting should be invalidated merely because notice as prescribed under Sub-sec. (1) of S. 171 is of insufficient duration. Sub-sec. (3) of S. 172 of the Act provides that the accidental omission to give notice to, or the non-receipt of notice by, any member should not invalidate the proceedings and that clearly indicates the anxiety of the Legislature not to invalidate the proceedings, even though no prejudice whatsoever is caused to the interest of the share-holders. To hold that the provisions of S. 171(1) of the Act are mandatory would lead to very unusual results and making it difficult for large Public Companies to effectively function. A couple of share-holders cannot be permitted to defeat the interest of large body of share-holders by raising contention that the duration of notice was not sufficient and even though such complaints do not indicate any prejudice by service of notice of shorter duration. In our judgment, looking to the object, purpose and scope of

provisions of S. 171(1) of the Act, the conclusion is inescapable that the provision is merely directory and not mandatory. 12. Shri Kapadia relied upon some decisions in support of the submission that the provision is mandatory and absolute compliance is necessary and it is wholly irrelevant that any prejudice is caused by non-compliance. The first decision relied upon is reported in MANU/SC/0060/1976 : [1977]2SCR190 Mannalal Khetan v. Kedar Nath Khetan. The Supreme Court examined the question whether the provisions of S. 108 of the Act are mandatory or directory. S. 108 deals with transfer of shares or debentures and provides that the Company shall not register the transfer unless a proper instrument of transfer duly stamped and executed by transferor and by the transferee has been delivered to the Company along with the certificate relating to the shares or debentures or along with the letter of allotment of the share certificate. The Supreme Court observed that negative, prohibitory and exclusive words are indicative of the legislative intent when the statute is mandatory. The words "shall not register" are mandatory in character and that is strengthened by the negative form of the language. The Supreme Court held that merely because the non-compliance is not declared as an offence cannot lead to the conclusion that the Section is directory. We are unable to appreciate how the decision will advance the case of the plaintiffs in claiming that S. 171(1) of the Act is mandatory. The object, scope and intent of the two Sections are totally different and distinct. The shares or debentures constitute property and the Legislature was particular that the transfers should not be effected unless the requirements of the Section are strictly complied with. The reason is obvious that such holder of the share or debenture certificates should not be deprived of the property right without the company being satisfied that the transfer is genuine. The decision of the Supreme Court has no application while examining the provisions of S. 171(1) of the Act. Shri Kapadia then referred to the decision of the single Judge of this Court reported in (1988) 63 Com Cas 310 Balwant Singh Sethi v. Sardar Zorawarsingh Hushnak Singh Anand, but the reliance on this decision is not appropriate. In the case before the learned single Judge the issue was whether the notice was of sufficient duration and the learned Judge, after holding that the notice was not of sufficient duration, proceeded to pass the order. Neither the question as to whether the provision of S. 171 of the Act was mandatory or directory or whether the party complaining has suffered prejudice was either argued or considered and consequently, the decision has no application to the submission that the provisions of S. 171 of the Act is mandatory. Such is the case with the decision reported in MANU/BH/0091/1956 : AIR1956Pat364 Homi Cawasji Bharucha v. Arjun Prasad on which reliance was placed. In absence of consideration as to whether the provisions are mandatory or directory, the mere fact that the decision proceeded to invalidate the meeting on the ground of duration of notice is not sufficient to infer that the provision was held to be mandatory. Shri Kapadia also submitted that the trial Judge was in error in concluding that the provision was directory by reference to sub-sec. (3) of S. 172 of the Act. It was urged that the sub-section refers only to accidental Omission or non-receipt of notice by any member and reference was made to English decisions to urge that omission should be accidental and not intentional. Reliance was also placed on the decision reported in (1960) 3 All ER 222 (Re, Pearce, Duff & Co. Ltd.) to urge that all share-holders must consent to the shorter duration of notice. It is not necessary to examine these line of cases as it is not the claim of the defendants that there is an accidental omission in giving notice of shorter duration or that all the shareholders had consented to notice being of shorter duration. 13. Shri Kapadia heavily relied upon the decision reported in MANU/TN/0269/1951 : AIR1951Mad831a N.V.R. Nagappa Chettiar v. The Madras Race Club and this judgment requires closer scrutiny. The Madras Race Club is a Body Corporate registered under the Companies Act of 1913 and the business and the object of the Club is to carry on business of Race Club and to provide amenities to the members. There were 260 Club members, of whom 23 were living outside British India. On October 16, 1947, notice was issued to the Club members of the Extraordinary General Meeting convened on November 7, 1947. The notice was posted at Guindy on October 16, 1947. The meeting held on November 7, 1947 and the resolutions passed therein were challenged by two members of the Club by filing a suit for themselves and on behalf of other members of the Club after obtaining permission under Order I, rule 8 of the Code of Civil Procedure. A declaration was sought that the meeting was invalid and void and all business transacted thereat was invalid, null and void and one of the contention in support of the declaration was that the notice of the meeting contravened the provisions of S. 81(2) of the Companies Act, 1913 as 21 days were not allowed between the date of the meeting and the receipt of the notice. The trial Judge concluded that though there was some irregularity at the meeting, there was no illegality in the proceedings of the meeting and the resolutions were validly passed. The plaintiffs carried an appeal and the Division Bench held that the

provision was mandatory and the meeting was not legally convened. The contention that the plaintiffs had not remained present at the meeting and, therefore, must be deemed to have waived the objection was turned down on the ground that such a plea was not specifically raised in the written statement, nor any issue was framed. While examining the contention that the shareholders can dispense with by agreement the duration of the notice, it was observed that the agreement must be of all the members of the Club and it was not enough that the members present at the meeting either expressly or impliedly consented to or acquiesced in shortening the period of notice. According to the Division Bench of Madras High Court, an express consent of all the members to waive the notice must be established and even if the members present at the meeting agreed to waive the defect, that would not cure the defect and the meeting would not be invalid. Shri Kapadia submitted that the decision of the Madras High Court, entirely supports the submission and it should be concluded that two Annual General Meetings convened were not valid meetings and the resolutions passed therein are ineffective. With respect, we are unable to share the view of Madras High Court. A contrary view has been taken by two Calcutta decisions and to which we will immediately refer. The first decision is reported in ILR (1973) 1 Cal 207 Surajmull Nagarmull v. Shew Bhagwan Jalan. Mr. Justice A. N. Sen, as he then was, by detailed judgment examined the ambit and scope of Sections 171 and 172 of the Act. The learned Judge held that Sections 171 to 186 of the Companies Actapply to the meetings of the Company and have been enacted for the proper holding of the meetings, the object being to ensure that the members of the Company get necessary and proper opportunity of amending and presenting their views effectively at the meeting. Examining the ambit of Section 171(2) of the Act, the learned Judge held that the notice of short duration in breach of provisions of sub-section (1) of Section 171 of the Act does not necessarily lead to voiding of the meeting and rendering the proceedings illegal, ineffective and void. The learned Judge disagreed with the observations of the Madras High Court and held that prior consent of the members would completely render sub-section (2) of Section 171 nugatory and seeking such prior consent may make waste of valuable time. The learned Judge held that consent referred need not necessarily be obtained before calling any meeting and the consent may be obtained before or after calling of the meeting and also at the meeting. The consent need not be express or in writing and may be implied and inferred from the conduct of the members. The learned Judge then examined the provisions of Section 171 and held that the provision is clearly directory and not mandatory. It was observed that the provision is not so imperative that the requirement thereof cannot be waived at all and is not mandatory in the sense that any breach thereof will necessarily and invariably invalidate the meetings and the proceedings thereof. The learned Judge observed that non-compliance with the statutory requirement of Section 171(1) of the Act may render the proceedings voidable and in appropriate cases any such breach may have the effect of invalidating the meeting and the proceedings thereat. We are in entire agreement with the reasonings and the conclusions reached by the learned Judge in regard to the ambit of Sections 171, 172 and 173(2) of the Act. The decision of the learned Judge was considered and followed by Division Bench of Calcutta High Court in the case reported in (1985) 58 Com Cas 275 : 1984 Tax LR 2163 Calcutta Chemical Co. Ltd. v. Dhiresh Chandra Roy. An identical view was also taken by Delhi High Court in the decision reported in (1986) 60 Com Cas 353 : 1985 Tax LR 39 Maharaja Exports v. Apparels Exports Promotion Council. In our judgment the Calcutta decision lays down the correct law and the view of the Madras High Court is very technical and would lead to a very drastic problems in running the affairs of the Public Limited Companies. It hardly requires to be stated that the Public Limited Companies have got large number of shareholders and if a couple of shareholders are permitted to challenge the legality of the proceedings of the meetings on the ground of insufficiency of notice, and that too without indicating any prejudice, then it would be impossible to efficiently run the administration of Public Limited Companies. The view taken by Madras High Court while considering the case of members of the Race Club, who were few in number did not consider the serious repercussions which would follow in case of Public Limited Companies having a large number of shareholders. 14. Shri Kapadia sounded an apprehension that in case the provisions of Section 171(1) of the Act are held to be directory, then every Company would hold the Annual General Meetings by service of notice of any duration and would defeat the object of service of notice. The submission is not accurate because even if the provision is held to be directory, that does not confer a charter on the Company to serve notice of any duration according to their choice. Even if the provision is directory, it does not permit the Company to by-pass the statutory requirement and in every case where a breach is complained of, the Court will have to examine whether the proceedings should be invalidated or otherwise. The learned Counsel felt that a Company make give notice of 4 or 5 days and will try to

sustain the validity of the proceedings. It is impossible to assume that the Court will close eyes to the reality and accept the claim that notice of even one day is enough. The Court will not proceed to invalidate the proceedings on the ground of insufficient duration of notice only when it is established that defect is not intentional or deliberate and no prejudice whatsoever is caused to a particular case by shorter duration of notice. It would be necessary for a party complaining of insufficient duration of notice to plead prejudice caused and in case such prejudice is established, then even though the provision is directory, the Court would grant the relief. 14A. Shri Kapadia then submitted that in the present case, the notice was short by one day and it has caused prejudice to the plaintiffs because the plaintiffs did not have sufficient time to canvass. In support of the submission, reference was made to letter dated September 18, 1991 addressed to the Company by Attorneys of the plaintiffs. The letter demands supply of balance-sheets and profit and loss account. The letter sets out that Santoshkumar was appointed as Additional Director improperly and copies of the minutes of the meetings were sought for. On September 20, 1991, the Company informed the Attorneys that in view of ongoing litigation between Arunkumar Poddar and defendants Nos. 2 and 3, the Attorneys should forward letters of authority of the clients authorising the attorneys to represent. On September 25, the demand was reiterated on behalf of the plaintiffs and on September 27, 1991, the Company informed the plaintiffs to come and take inspection of all the documents. From this correspondence, it was contended by Shri Kapadia that the Company deliberately suppressed the relevant documents from the plaintiffs and that has caused prejudice to the plaintiffs as the plaintiffs did not have sufficient time to canvass against the proposed resolutions to be moved at the Annual General Meetings. Shri Cooper controverted the submission by pointing out that apart from the fact that none of the plaintiffs remained present at the Annual General Meetings and raised any objection, to the resolutions which were unanimously passed, no complaint of prejudice whatsoever is made in the plaints. The only averment in paragraph 11 of the Plaint in Suit No. 3002 of 1991 is that the defendants have deliberately circulated an abridged balance-sheet so as to prevent acts of misconduct, misfeasance and malfeasance of the defendants coming to light. It is further averred that even a glance at the Auditor's report and Notes on Accounts makes it clear that the substratum of the Company has disappeared and defendants Nos. 2 to 4 are mismanaging the Company and treating the Company as their private assets. It is obvious that the plaintiffs never made complaint of any prejudice suffered because of shorter duration of notice and the contention urged by Shri Kapadia with reference to the correspondence is imaginary. In MANU/PR/0019/1928 : AIR 1928 PC 180 Parashuram Detaram Shamdasani v. Tata Industrial Bank Ltd., it was held that the shareholders knowing the work to be transacted at the meeting and remaining absent cannot subsequently complain about insufficiency of notice for convening the meeting. In our judgment, the plaintiffs have not suffered any prejudice whatsoever by notice being of only 20 clear days instead of 21 clear days and it is obvious that the plaintiffs are set up by Arunkumar Poddar who has personal quarrels with defendants Nos. 2 and 3 who are his real brothers. The share holding of the plaintiffs is extremely negligible being 0.3% and it would be entirely unreasonable to invalidate the business transacted at the Annual General Meeting at the behest of these few shareholders and to the detriment of large body of shareholders who had unanimously approved the resolutions moved at the meetings. We enquired from the learned Counsel as to which resolution passed at the meeting affects the interest of the plaintiffs and the grievance seems to be only about the issuance of right shares after increasing authorised share capital and conferring power on the Board of Directors to make loans to any Body Corporate. The issuance of the right shares to all the existing shareholders can by no stretch of imagination affects the interests of the shareholders, nor would change the controlling pattern of share holding of the Company. The grievance about conferring power upon the Board of Directors to make loans to Body Corporate is the apprehension that the Directors may give loans to firms and Companies in which they have interest. More about it at a later stage, but the prejudice complained of seems to be only of Arunkumar Poddar who has personal complaints against defendants Nos. 2 and 3 and we are not, at all, impressed by the claim made by the learned Counsel that service of notice of 20 clear days has caused prejudice. 15. Shri Kapadia then submitted that the proceedings held at the two Annual General Meetings should be invalidated because there was no strict compliance with the provisions of sub-section (3) of Section 217 of the Act. The sub-section, inter alia, provides that there shall be attached to every balance-sheet laid before a Company in general meeting, a report of its Board of Directors, with respect to the state of the company's affairs. Subsection (3) demands that the Board shall give the fullest information and explanations in its report on every reservation, qualification or adverse remark contained in the auditors' report. Referring to 8th Annual Report, the learned Counsel urged that the

auditors had made certain remarks and the information supplied by the Company was not sufficient and, therefore, it was not possible to pass the accounts at the Annual General Meeting. We are unable to find any merit in the contention. The Directors' Report clearly recites that information as per Section 217 of the Act is supplied and Notes Nos. 5 to 8, which counsel laid stress refer to estimated gratuity and liability, sundry debts, and interest on overdue bills and, in our judgment, the information supplied cannot be said to be insufficient so as to make it impossible for the shareholders to pass the accounts. Shri Kapadia then submitted that Section 173 of the Act demands that in case of an annual general meeting, the statement setting out all material facts connecting with each item of the business should be annexed to the notice of the meeting. It was contended that the provisions that explanatory statement should be annexed to the notice is mandatory as held by single Judge of this Court in judgment reported in MANU/MH/0047/1972 : AIR1972Bom276 Laljibhai C.Kapadia v. Lalji B. Desai and the decision reported in MANU/GJ/0003/1964 : (1964)0GLR804 Mohanlal Ganpatram v. Shri Sayaji Jubilee Cotton and Jute Mills Co. Ltd. The learned Counsel urged that Item 8 of the 9th Annual Report sets out a resolution conferring power upon the Board of Directors to make any loan to any Body Corporate from time to time on such terms and conditions as the Directors may deem fit provided that the aggregate of the loans outstanding at any one time made to the Company shall not exceed 30% of the aggregate of the subscribed share capital. The explanatory note to Item No. 8 sets out that in the course of business, the Company may have to make loan or deposits, etc. to bodies, corporates in excess of the limits and Section 370_ of the Act provides that no Company shall make any loan or loans to any Body Corporate in excess of the limits by Central Government unless making of such loans has been previously authorised by a special resolution of the lending Company. The explanatory note recites that the Company may have surplus funds during off season and which the Board of Directors may utilise for giving loans and it is, therefore, advisable in the interest of the Company to obtain consent of the members by special resolution. Shri Kapadia complains that the explanation is a tricky one because the claim that the Company may have surplus funds is totally false. Reference was made to the minutes of the meeting held on January 1, 1991 and at which meeting Santoshkumar was appointed as Additional Director. One of the reasons set out for appointing Santoshkumar was that the business of the Company of manufacturing cotton printed sarees and textures/twisted yarn and P.O.Y. was undergoing recession and the Company under the circumstances of the crisis has trying time ahead and Santoshkumar can help the Company to come out of the crisis. Shri Kapadia submits that this reason is indicative of the fact that the financial state of the Company was not healthy and if that is so, it is impossible to imagine that the Company may have surplus funds as set out in the explanatory statement. It was urged that the power was sought by the Board of Directors only with a view to siphon away the funds of the Company to the concerns in which defendants Nos. 2 and 3 have control and interest. The learned Counsel urged that the fact that the Company did not give a truthful explanation is sufficient to invalidate the resolutions passed at the meetings. It is not possible to find any merit in the contention for more than one reason. In the first instance, the claim that the financial health of the Company was not sound cannot be accepted merely because in the meeting held on January 1, 1991, one of the reasons given for nominating Santoshkumar was to overcome the recession in the market and which was due to Gulf War and money conditions being tight. It is not correct that the financial condition of the Company was not sound because one of the resolutions at the 9th Annual General Meetings was to declare a dividend. Shri Kapadia submitted that the Company wants to disburse the dividend not out of the profits but out of the assets of the Company and declaration of dividend was a ruse to mislead the shareholders. It is not possible to accept the claim made on behalf of the: plaintiffs because nothing prevented the plaintiffs to remain present at the AnnualGeneral Meeting and raise objections or to impress upon other shareholders the claim of mismanagement. Secondly, the assumption of the plaintiffs that the Board of Directors would siphon of the funds to the concerns of defendants Nos. 2 and 3 is without any foundation. There is not a whisper of complaint in the plaints that defendants Nos. 2 and 3 have previously siphoned away the funds of the Company or had given loans to Body Corporate in which these defendants have any interest. Save and except the averment made in paragraph 11 to which reference is made hereinabove, the plaintiffs have not pointed out any act of defendants Nos. 2 and 3 to create suspicion that Resolution No. 8 at 9th Annual General Meeting was for the purpose of enabling Board of Directors to grant loans to their own concerns. Thirdly, the explanatory statement also recites that the surplus funds may be available during off season and conferring of a power cannot necessarily lead to the inference that the power was to be misused by the Board of Directors. Again, it is not permissible for the plaintiffs who were fully conscious of the business to be transacted at

the Annual GeneralMeeting to remain absent and thereafter complain of insufficiency of information or tricky explanation. In our judgment, the challenge to the business conducted in the meetings is without any substance and there is no reason to nullify the resolutions passed at the Annual General Meetings. 16. It is required to be mentioned that though the plaintiffs had claimed before the trial Court that the Company had no authority to convene 8th Annual General Meeting after December 1990, the said contention was not pressed by Shri Kapadia during the arguments. The trial Judge negatived the contention by holding that there is no prohibition to hold Annual General Meeting after the statutory period and the only consequence is of penalty payable by the Company. In absence of any arguments on this aspect, it is not necessary to examine the finding. In our judgment, the plaintiffs have not made out any case for grant of relief and accordingly, the appeals as well as Suits Nos. 3002 and 3003 of 1991 must fail in accordance with the consent statements filed by the parties. 17. Accordingly, Appeals Nos. 1001, 1002 and 1082 of 1991 are dismissed with costs. In view of the consent statement filed by the parties in Suits Nos. 3002 and 3003 of 1991, both the suits are dismissed with costs. The findings recorded by this judgment are binding upon the plaintiffs in Suit No. 3139 of 1991 in view of the consent statement filed by the parties to this suit. At this stage, Shri Kapadia orally applies for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. Prayer refused. Shri Kapadia applies for continuation of interim relief on the ground that the interim relief has continued from September 1991. We are not inclined to continue the interim relief because the complaint about enforcement of resolution passed at the two Annual General Meetings is principally in respect of only two items, viz. (a) issuance of right shares, and (b) conferring power upon the Board of Directors to give loans. We do not find that even if these two resolutions are enforced, any prejudice whatsoever will be caused to the plaintiffs. The right shares are issued to the existing shareholders at par and issuance of such shares are not likely to affect the controlling pattern of the Company. The apprehension that the shareholders may transfer the shares and interest of third party may come in is without any merit. The conferring of power on the Board of Directors to grant loans to Body Corporate also is not going to affect the interests of the plaintiffs as there are several restrictions prescribed under the Act before grant of loan. Accordingly, prayer for continuation of interim relief is rejected. 18. Order accordingly. Manupatra Information Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Go to top