Woman director norms are for ‘gender diversity’: SEBI

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New Delhi: With many listed companies failing to appoint at least one woman director on their boards, SEBI says the regulations are aimed at ensuring “gender diversity”. Listed companies which did not comply with the directive of appointing at least one woman director by March 31 have been penalised. A minimum of Rs 50,000 fine will be levied from the non-compliant companies and more action will follow if things stay that way after six months.

A senior SEBI official said the requirement of appointing women directors on the boards of companies is seen as a “gender issue”. The idea is about diversity on the boards of companies and ensure that more women directors are there, the official noted. On whether the regulator will be immediately looking at having independent women directors, the official said the focus is now on having more women on the boards of listed companies.

Earlier this month, SEBI announced a four-stage penalty structure wherein fines will increase with the passage of time. The market watchdog has asked the stock exchanges to levy the fines as the violation relates to the Listing Agreement. Firms will have to pay only the monetary fine and can escape further regulatory action if they comply within next six months, that is till September 30.

The listed companies complying between April 1 and June 30 will have to pay only Rs 50,000. Those complying between July 1 and September 30 this year will need to pay Rs 50,000 and an additional Rs 1,000 per day till compliance. The listed companies complying on or after October 1, 2015 would have to pay Rs 1.42 lakh, plus Rs 5,000 per day till the date of compliance.

“For any non-compliance beyond September 30, 2015, SEBI may take any other action, against the non-compliant entities, their promoters and/or directors or issue such directions in accordance with law, as considered appropriate,” the regulator said in a circular earlier this month.

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