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Chapter VIII – DECLARATION AND PAYMENT OF DIVIDEND

Section 123 – Declaration of dividend
(1) No dividend shall be declared or paid by a company for any financial year except–

(a) out of the profits of the company for that year arrived at after providing for depreciation in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (2), or out of the profits of the company for any previous financial year or years arrived at after providing for depreciation in accordance with the provisions of that sub-section and remaining undistributed, or out of both; or

(b) out of money provided by the Central Government or a State Government for the payment of dividend by the company in pursuance of a guarantee given by that Government:

Provided that a company may, before the declaration of any dividend in any financial year, transfer such percentage of its profits for that financial year as it may consider appropriate to the reserves of the company:

Provided further that where, owing to inadequacy or absence of profits in any financial year, any company proposes to declare dividend out of the accumulated profits earned by it in previous years and transferred by the company to the reserves, such declaration of dividend shall not be made except in accordance with such rules as may be prescribed in this behalf:

Provided also that no dividend shall be declared or paid by a company from its reserves other than free reserves.

(2) For the purposes of clause (a) of sub-section (1), depreciation shall be provided in accordance with the provisions of Schedule II.

(3) The Board of Directors of a company may declare interim dividend during any financial year out of the surplus in the profit and loss account and out of profits of the financial year in which such interim dividend is sought to be declared:

Provided that in case the company has incurred loss during the current financial year up to the end of the quarter immediately preceding the date of declaration of interim dividend, such interim dividend shall not be declared at a rate higher than the average dividends declared by the company during the immediately preceding three financial years.

(4) The amount of the dividend, including interim dividend, shall be deposited in a scheduled bank in a separate account within five days from the date of declaration of such dividend.

(5) No dividend shall be paid by a company in respect of any share therein except to the registered shareholder of such share or to his order or to his banker and shall not be payable except in cash:

Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall be deemed to prohibit the capitalisation of profits or reserves of a company for the purpose of issuing fully paid-up bonus shares or paying up any amount for the time being unpaid on any shares held by the members of the company:

Provided further that any dividend payable in cash may be paid by cheque or warrant or in any electronic mode to the shareholder entitled to the payment of the dividend.

(6) A company which fails to comply with the provisions of sections 73 and 74 shall not, so long as such failure continues, declare any dividend on its equity shares.

Section 124 – Unpaid Dividend Account
(1) Where a dividend has been declared by a company but has not been paid or claimed within thirty days from the date of the declaration to any shareholder entitled to the payment of the dividend, the company shall, within seven days from the date of expiry of the said period of thirty days, transfer the total amount of dividend which remains unpaid or unclaimed to a special account to be opened by the company in that behalf in any scheduled bank to be called the Unpaid Dividend Account.

(2) The company shall, within a period of ninety days of making any transfer of an amount under sub-section (1) to the Unpaid Dividend Account, prepare a statement containing the names, their last known addresses and the unpaid dividend to be paid to each person and place it on the website of the company, if any, and also on any other website approved by the Central Government for this purpose, in such form, manner and other particulars as may be prescribed.

(3) If any default is made in transferring the total amount referred to in sub-section (1) or any part thereof to the Unpaid Dividend Account of the company, it shall pay, from the date of such default, interest on so much of the amount as has not been transferred to the said account, at the rate of twelve per cent. per annum and the interest accruing on such amount shall enure to the benefit of the members of the company in proportion to the amount remaining unpaid to them.

(4) Any person claiming to be entitled to any money transferred under sub-section (1) to the Unpaid Dividend Account of the company may apply to the company for payment of the money claimed.

(5) Any money transferred to the Unpaid Dividend Account of a company in pursuance of this section which remains unpaid or unclaimed for a period of seven years from the date of such transfer shall be transferred by the company along with interest accrued, if any, thereon to the Fund established under sub-section (1) of section 125 and the company shall send a statement in the prescribed form of the details of such transfer to the authority which administers the said Fund and that authority shall issue a receipt to the company as evidence of such transfer.

(6) All shares in respect of which unpaid or unclaimed dividend has been transferred under sub-section (5) shall also be transferred by the company in the name of Investor Education and Protection Fund along with a statement containing such details as may be prescribed:

Provided that any claimant of shares transferred above shall be entitled to claim the transfer of shares from Investor Education and Protection Fund in accordance with such procedure and on submission of such documents as may be prescribed.

(7) If a company fails to comply with any of the requirements of this section, the company shall be punishable with fine which shall not be less than five lakh rupees but which may extend to twenty-five lakh rupees and every officer of the company who is in default shall be punishable with fine which shall not be less than one lakh rupees but which may extend to five lakh rupees.

Section 125 – Investor Education and Protection Fund
(1) The Central Government shall establish a Fund to be called the Investor Education and Protection Fund (herein referred to as the Fund).

(2) There shall be credited to the Fund–

(a) the amount given by the Central Government by way of grants after due appropriation made by Parliament by law in this behalf for being utilised for the purposes of the Fund;

(b) donations given to the Fund by the Central Government, State Governments, companies or any other institution for the purposes of the Fund;

(c) the amount in the Unpaid Dividend Account of companies transferred to the Fund under sub-section (5) of section 124;

(d) the amount in the general revenue account of the Central Government which had been transferred to that account under sub-section (5) of section 205A of the Companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956), as it stood immediately before the commencement of the Companies (Amendment) Act, 1999 (21 of 1999), and remaining unpaid or unclaimed on the commencement of this Act;

(e) the amount lying in the Investor Education and Protection Fund under section 205C of the Companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956);

(f) the interest or other income received out of investments made from the Fund;

(g) the amount received under sub-section (4) of section 38;

(h) the application money received by companies for allotment of any securities and due for refund;

(i) matured deposits with companies other than banking companies;

(j) matured debentures with companies;

(k) interest accrued on the amounts referred to in clauses (h) to (j);

(l) sale proceeds of fractional shares arising out of issuance of bonus shares, merger and amalgamation for seven or more years;

(m) redemption amount of preference shares remaining unpaid or unclaimed for seven or more years; and

(n) such other amount as may be prescribed:

Provided that no such amount referred to in clauses (h) to (j) shall form part of the Fund unless such amount has remained unclaimed and unpaid for a period of seven years from the date it became due for payment.

(3) The Fund shall be utilised for–

(a) the refund in respect of unclaimed dividends, matured deposits, matured debentures, the application money due for refund and interest thereon;

(b) promotion of investors’ education, awareness and protection;

(c) distribution of any disgorged amount among eligible and identifiable applicants for shares or debentures, shareholders, debenture-holders or depositors who have suffered losses due to wrong actions by any person, in accordance with the orders made by the Court which had ordered disgorgement;

(d) reimbursement of legal expenses incurred in pursuing class action suits under sections 37 and 245 by members, debenture-holders or depositors as may be sanctioned by the Tribunal; and

(e) any other purpose incidental thereto,

in accordance with such rules as may be prescribed:

Provided that the person whose amounts referred to in clauses (a) to (d) of sub-section (2) of section 205C transferred to Investor Education and Protection Fund, after the expiry of the period of seven years as per provisions of the Companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956), shall be entitled to get refund out of the Fund in respect of such claims in accordance with rules made under this section.

Explanation.–The disgorged amount refers to the amount received through disgorgement or disposal of securities.

(4) Any person claiming to be entitled to the amount referred in sub-section (2) may apply to the authority constituted under sub-section (5) for the payment of the money claimed.

(5) The Central Government shall constitute, by notification, an authority for administration of the Fund consisting of a chairperson and such other members, not exceeding seven and a chief executive officer, as the Central Government may appoint.

(6) The manner of administration of the Fund, appointment of chairperson, members and chief executive officer, holding of meetings of the authority shall be in accordance with such rules as may be prescribed.

(7) The Central Government may provide to the authority such offices, officers, employees and other resources in accordance with such rules as may be prescribed.

(8) The authority shall administer the Fund and maintain separate accounts and other relevant records in relation to the Fund in such form as may be prescribed after consultation with the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India.

(9) It shall be competent for the authority constituted under sub-section (5) to spend money out of the Fund for carrying out the objects specified in sub-section (3).

(10) The accounts of the Fund shall be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India at such intervals as may be specified by him and such audited accounts together with the audit report thereon shall be forwarded annually by the authority to the Central Government.

(11) The authority shall prepare in such form and at such time for each financial year as may be prescribed its annual report giving a full account of its activities during the financial year and forward a copy thereof to the Central Government and the Central Government shall cause the annual report and the audit report given by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India to be laid before each House of Parliament.

Section 126 – Right to dividend, rights shares and bonus shares to be held in abeyance pending registration of transfer of shares
Where any instrument of transfer of shares has been delivered to any company for registration and the transfer of such shares has not been registered by the company, it shall, notwithstanding anything contained in any other provision of this Act,–

(a) transfer the dividend in relation to such shares to the Unpaid Dividend Account referred to in section 124 unless the company is authorised by the registered holder of such shares in writing to pay such dividend to the transferee specified in such instrument of transfer; and

(b) keep in abeyance in relation to such shares, any offer of rights shares under clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 62 and any issue of fully paid-up bonus shares in pursuance of first proviso to sub-section (5) of section 123.

Section 127 – Punishment for failure to distribute dividends
Where a dividend has been declared by a company but has not been paid or the warrant in respect thereof has not been posted within thirty days from the date of declaration to any shareholder entitled to the payment of the dividend, every director of the company shall, if he is knowingly a party to the default, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to two years and with fine which shall not be less than one thousand rupees for every day during which such default continues and the company shall be liable to pay simple interest at the rate of eighteen per cent. per annum during the period for which such default continues:

Provided that no offence under this section shall be deemed to have been committed:–

(a) where the dividend could not be paid by reason of the operation of any law;

(b) where a shareholder has given directions to the company regarding the payment of the dividend and those directions cannot be complied with and the same has been communicated to him;

(c) where there is a dispute regarding the right to receive the dividend;

(d) where the dividend has been lawfully adjusted by the company against any sum due to it from the shareholder; or

(e) where, for any other reason, the failure to pay the dividend or to post the warrant within the period under this section was not due to any default on the part of the company.

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