In a multi-city protest on Monday, a large number of company secretaries (CS) and chartered accountants (CAs) came together to seek extension of the deadline for annual filing due to glitches in the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) portal.
According to the Companies Act, firms are supposed to submit Form AOC 4 for filing of the balance sheet within 30 days of holding the annual general meeting (AGM).
This deadline was over on October 29.
The professionals sat outside registrar offices in Jaipur and Chandigarh, shouting “We want justice.”
A group of professionals also visited Shastri Bhawan, where the office of the MCA is located.
A senior government official told Business Standard that there is no deadline for filing financial statements, and instead, there is a 30-day period, which starts after the AGM is held.
“Our portal was working every day. We have seen an increased number of filings in the last few days compared to earlier weeks,” the senior official said.
Since 2014, after the Companies Act 2013 came into effect, there has been an extension of the deadline for holding the AGM or exemption of penalty for late submission nearly every year.
Last year, the last date for AGM was extended to November 30 and filing fee was exempted till February 2022.
In 2020, due to the pandemic, all filing deadlines were increased till December 2020 without penalty.
Amita Desai, a Mumbai-based senior company secretary, who was not part of any protest, said that the portal has not been able to support the filings for the last 2-3 days.
This has made compliance particularly difficult for small and medium companies.
“In my experience of 27 years, most companies call an AGM on the last day, and so, their deadline ends on October 29.
"We are getting system errors while filling the forms and it is a major challenge,” she said.
Desai said the government should consider increasing the filing deadline from 30 to 60 days from the day of AGM.
“What is particularly worrying for company secretaries is that if, in a rush, there is some error in the filing, then Section 447 of the Companies Act that deals with fraud gets applied,” Desai added.
The MCA had recently asked companies to file in advance and not delay it till the last moment.
“The MCA needs to first acknowledge that there is a problem. Only then, a solution can be found,” said Vishal Sharma, Chandigarh-based company secretary.
There are around 1.4 million companies, of which, 1-1.2 million are small or medium companies.
The deadline for filing the AOC 4 form is also clashing with the last date for filing the MSME 1 form.
This has added to the workload of the professionals.
Company secretaries said that the system is showing errors such as being logged in even after log out.
It is regenerating a new service registration number after every failed attempt, there are internal server errors and gateway timeout while uploading forms.
Company secretary Divesh Goyal said in a tweet, “We professionals never want extension from the MCA.
"We just want a working portal till the last minute of the due date.
"If the portal works till the last minute of the due date, then there will be no need for extension. MCA should look into it.”
Many other professionals said that it was not their fault that clients were providing financials in the last hour.
The current glitches are occurring in MCA version 2 and not the latest version 3.
Professionals have also raised issues with the new version with the government.
Backend services of the portal are being managed by L&T Infotech.