The Companies Act, 1956
545. Prosecution of delinquent officers and members of company.
(1) If it appears to the 1[Tribunal] in the course of a winding up by, 2[the Tribunal], that any past or present officer, or any member, of the company has been guilty of any offence in relation to the company, the 3[Tribunal] may, either on the application of any person interested in the winding up or of its own motion, direct the liquidator either himself to prosecute the offender or to refer the matter to the Registrar.
(2) If it appears to the liquidator in the course of a voluntary winding up that any past or present officer, or any member, of the company has been guilty of an offence in relation to the company he shall forthwith report the matter to the Registrar and shall furnish to him such information and give to him such access to and facilities for inspecting and taking copies of any books and papers, being information or books and papers in the possession or under the control of the liquidator and relating to the matter in question, as the Registrar may require
(3) Where any report is made under sub-section (2) to the Registrar, he may, if he thinks fit, refer the matter to the Central Government for further inquiry.
The Central Government shall thereupon investigate the matter and may, if it thinks it expedient, apply to the 3[Tribunal] for an order conferring on any person designated by the Central Government for the purpose, with respect to the company concerned, all such powers of investigating the affairs of the company as are provided by this Act in the case of a winding up by the 3[Tribunal].
(4) If on any report to the Registrar under sub-section (2), it appears to him that the case is not one in which proceedings ought to be taken by him, he shall inform the liquidator accordingly, and thereupon, subject to the previous sanction of the 3[Tribunal], the liquidator may himself take proceedings against the offender.
(5) If it appears to the 3[Tribunal] in the course of a voluntary winding up that any past or present officer, or any member, of the company has been guilty as aforesaid, and that no report with respect to the matter has been made by the liquidator to the Registrar under sub-section (2), the 3[Tribunal] may, on the application of any person interested in the winding up or of its own motion, direct the liquidator to make such a report, and on a report being made accordingly, the provisions of this section shall have effect as though the report had been made in pursuance of the provisions of sub-section (2).
(6) If, where any matter is reported or referred to the Registrar under this section, he considers that the case is one in which a prosecution ought to be instituted, he shall report the matter to the Central Government; and that Government may, after taking such legal advice as it thinks fit, direct the Registrar to institute proceedings:
Provided that no report shall be made by the Registrar under this sub-section without first giving the accused person an opportunity of making a statement in writing to the Registrar and of being heard thereon.
(7) When any proceedings are instituted under this section, it shall be the duty of the liquidator and of every officer and agent of the company past and present (other than the defendant in the proceedings) to give all assistance in connection with the prosecution which he is reasonably able to give.
For the purposes of this sub-section, the expression “agent”, in relation to a company, shall be deemed to include any banker or legal adviser of the company and any person employed by the company as auditor.
(8) If any person fails or neglects to give assistance in the manner required by sub-section (7), the vestigate the matter and may, if it thinks it expedient, apply to the 3[Tribunal] may, on the application of the Registrar, direct that person to comply with the requirements of that sub-section.
(9) Where any such application is made with respect to a liquidator, the vestigate the matter and may, if it thinks it expedient, apply to the 3[Tribunal] may, unless it appears that the failure or neglect was due to the liquidator not having in his hands sufficient assets of the company to enable him so to do, direct that the costs of the application shall be borne by the liquidator personally.
For the purpose of action under section 545 it is not essential that a public examination should first be held under section 478 of the Act; Official Liquidator (The Popular Bank Ltd.) v. K. Madhava Naik, 1965 (35) Comp. Cas. 174: 1965 (1) Com LJ 161: AIR 1965 SC 654.
1. Subs. by Act 11 of 2003, sec. 102, for “Court”.
2. Subs. by Act 11 of 2003, sec. 102, for “or subject to the supervision of the Court”.
3. Subs. by Act 11 of 2003, sec. 102, for “Court”.