No better opportunity than the present time for private companies to exercise their CSR duty: Bombay High Court
The Bombay High Court's Nagpur Bench expressed disappointment on Wednesday with the response it received from private sector enterprises operating in Vidarbha over the availability of CSR funding for enhancing the region's healthcare system. In the current circumstances, the Court found that the firms had a good opportunity to fulfil their statutory duties under Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013. When these corporate entities are enjoined with a statutory responsibility, it is expected that they will carry out that responsibility whenever they are called upon, and there could have been no greater opportunity than the present moment and current reason to do so, in our opinion." The court ordered the Nagpur Divisional Commissioner and the Amravati Divisional Commissioner to seek information on the availability of CSR funding from all enterprises functioning in their divisions. They were also told to approach the corporations and request that CSR monies be made available for use. The Court further stated that before making such requests, the Commissioners should confirm the information they get from the enterprises with the Joint Director, District Industries Centre. These directives were issued during the hearing of a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on COVID-19 management difficulties in Nagpur and the surrounding regions. Justices SB Shukre and AG Gharote asked for more information on the availability of CSR funding to help with COVID-19 relief operations. The Court was pleased with the responses it received from public sector firms such as Western Coalfields Ltd. and Manganese Ore (India) Limited. However, it has got no responses from both public and private sector entities, including NTPC, MAHAGENCO (Power Generation), MAHAGENCO (Power Transmission), and MSEDCL. It further stated that if these corporations do not reply, it will be forced to issue orders to "wake (them) up and answer the call of duty."