Section 139 of Companies Act, 2013 – Appointment of Auditors

  • Updated Till : August 16, 2017

SECTION 139. APPOINTMENT OF AUDITORS

[Effective from 1st April, 2014]

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Chapter, every company shall, at the first annual general meeting, appoint an individual or a firm as an auditor who shall hold office from the conclusion of that meeting till the conclusion of its sixth annual general meeting and thereafter till the conclusion of every sixth meeting and the manner and procedure of selection of auditors by the members of the company at such meeting shall be such as may be prescribed:

Provided that the company shall place the matter relating to such appointment for ratification by members at every annual general meeting:

Provided further that before such appointment is made, the written consent of the auditor to such appointment, and a certificate from him or it that the appointment, if made, shall be in accordance with the conditions as may be prescribed, shall be obtained from the auditor:

Provided also that the certificate shall also indicate whether the auditor satisfies the criteria provided in section 141:

Provided also that the company shall inform the auditor concerned of his or its appointment, and also file a notice of such appointment with the Registrar within fifteen days of the meeting in which the auditor is appointed.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this Chapter, “appointment” includes re-appointment.

Exemption

In case of a Specified IFSC private company for the words “ fifteen days” the words “thirty day” shall be read, vide Notification no. G.S.R. 9(E).dated 04th January, 2017.

In case of a Specified IFSC public company for the words “ fifteen days” the words “thirty day” shall be read, vide Notification no. G.S.R. 08(E).dated 04th January, 2017.

(2) No listed company or a company belonging to such class or classes of companies as may be prescribed, shall appoint or re-appoint—

(a) an individual as auditor for more than one term of five consecutive years; and

(b) an audit firm as auditor for more than two terms of five consecutive years:

Provided that—

(i) an individual auditor who has completed his term under clause (a) shall not be eligible for re-appointment as auditor in the same company for five years from the completion of his term;

(ii) an audit firm which has completed its term under clause (b), shall not be eligible for re-appointment as auditor in the same company for five years from the completion of such term:

Provided further that as on the date of appointment no audit firm having a common partner or partners to the other audit firm, whose tenure has expired in a company immediately preceding the financial year, shall be appointed as auditor of the same company for a period of five years:

[Provided also that every company, existing on or before the commencement of this Act which is required to comply with the provisions of this sub-section, shall comply with requirements of this sub-section within a period which shall not be later than the date of the first annual general meeting of the company held, within the period specified under sub-section (1) of section 96, after three years from the date of commencement of this Act.][2]

Provided also that, nothing contained in this sub-section shall prejudice the right of the company to remove an auditor or the right of the auditor to resign from such office of the company.

Exemption

In case of a Specified IFSC private company Sub-section (2) shall not apply vide Notification no. G.S.R. 9(E).dated 04th January, 2017.

In case of a Specified IFSC public company Sub-section (2) shall not apply vide Notification no. G.S.R. 08(E).dated 04th January, 2017.

(3) Subject to the provisions of this Act, members of a company may resolve to provide that—

(a) in the audit firm appointed by it, the auditing partner and his team shall be rotated at such intervals as may be resolved by members; or

(b) the audit shall be conducted by more than one auditor.

(4) The Central Government may, by rules, prescribe the manner in which the companies shall rotate their auditors in pursuance of sub-section (2).

Explanation.—For the purposes of this Chapter, the word “firm” shall include a limited liability partnership incorporated under the *Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008 (6 of 2009).

(5) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), in the case of a Government company or any other company owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the Central Government, or by any State Government or Governments, or partly by the Central Government and partly by one or more State Governments, the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India shall, in respect of a financial year, appoint an auditor duly qualified to be appointed as an auditor of companies under this Act, within a period of one hundred and eighty days from the commencement of the financial year, who shall hold office till the conclusion of the annual general meeting.

(6) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), the first auditor of a company, other than a Government company, shall be appointed by the Board of Directors within thirty days from the date of registration of the company and in the case of failure of the Board to appoint such auditor, it shall inform the members of the company, who shall within ninety days at an extraordinary general meeting appoint such auditor and such auditor shall hold office till the conclusion of the first annual general meeting.

(7) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1) or sub-section (5), in the case of a Government company or any other company owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the Central Government, or by any State Government, or Governments, or partly by the Central Government and partly by one or more State Governments, the first auditor shall be appointed by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India within sixty days from the date of registration of the company and in case the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India does not appoint such auditor within the said period, the Board of Directors of the company shall appoint such auditor within the next thirty days; and in the case of failure of the Board to appoint such auditor within the next thirty days, it shall inform the members of the company who shall appoint such auditor within the sixty days at an extraordinary general meeting, who shall hold office till the conclusion of the first annual general meeting.

(8) Any casual vacancy in the office of an auditor shall—

(i) in the case of a company other than a company whose accounts are subject to audit by an auditor appointed by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, be filled by the Board of Directors within thirty days, but if such casual vacancy is as a result of the resignation of an auditor, such appointment shall also be approved by the company at a general meeting convened within three months of the recommendation of the Board and he shall hold the office till the conclusion of the next annual general meeting;

(ii) in the case of a company whose accounts are subject to audit by an auditor appointed by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, be filled by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India within thirty days:

Provided that in case the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India does not fill the vacancy within the said period, the Board of Directors shall fill the vacancy within next thirty days.

(9) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (1) and the rules made thereunder, a retiring auditor may be re-appointed at an annual general meeting, if—

(a) he is not disqualified for re-appointment;

(b) he has not given the company a notice in writing of his unwillingness to be re-appointed; and

(c) a special resolution has not been passed at that meeting appointing some other auditor or providing expressly that he shall not be re-appointed.

(10) Where at any annual general meeting, no auditor is appointed or re-appointed, the existing auditor shall continue to be the auditor of the company.

(11) Where a company is required to constitute an Audit Committee under section 177, all appointments, including the filling of a casual vacancy of an auditor under this section shall be made after taking into account the recommendations of such committee.

Companies (Audit and Auditors) Rules, 2014

[Effective from 1st April, 2014]

Rule 2. Definitions.—(1) In these rules, unless the context otherwise requires,—

(a) “Act” means the Companies Act, 2013 (18 of 2013);

(b) “Annexure” means the Annexure enclosed to these rules;

(c) “fees” means fees specified in the Companies (Registration Offices and Fees) Rules, 2014.

(d) “Form” or “e-Form” means a form set forth under these rules which shall be used for the matter to which it relates;

(e) “section” means section of the Act.

(2) The words and expressions used in these rules but not defined and defined in the Act or in the Companies (Specification of definitions details) Rules, 2014 shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in the Act or in the said rules.

Rule 3. Manner and procedure of selection and appointment of auditors.—(1) In case of a company that is required to constitute an Audit Committee under section 177, the committee, and, in cases where such a committee is not required to be constituted, the Board, shall take into consideration the qualifications and experience of the individual or the firm proposed to be considered for appointment as auditor and whether such qualifications and experience are commensurate with the size and requirements of the company:

Provided that while considering the appointment, the Audit Committee or the Board, as the case may be, shall have regard to any order or pending proceeding relating to professional matters of conduct against the proposed auditor before the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India or any competent authority or any Court.

(2) The Audit Committee or the Board, as the case may be, may call for such other information from the proposed auditor as it may deem fit.

(3) Subject to the provisions of sub-rule (1), where a company is required to constitute the Audit Committee, the committee shall recommend the name of an individual or a firm as auditor to the Board for consideration and in other cases, the Board shall consider and recommend an individual or a firm as auditor to the members in the annual general meeting for appointment.

(4) If the Board agrees with the recommendation of the Audit Committee, it shall further recommend the appointment of an individual or a firm as auditor to the members in the annual general meeting.

(5) If the Board disagrees with the recommendation of the Audit Committee, it shall refer back the recommendation to the committee for reconsideration citing reasons for such disagreement.

(6) If the Audit Committee, after considering the reasons given by the Board, decides not to reconsider its original recommendation, the Board shall record reasons for its disagreement with the committee and send its own recommendation for consideration of the members in the annual general meeting; and if the Board agrees with the recommendations of the Audit Committee, it shall place the matter for consideration by members in the annual general meeting.

(7) The auditor appointed in the annual general meeting shall hold office from the conclusion of that meeting till the conclusion of the sixth annual general meeting, with the meeting wherein such appointment has been made being counted as the first meeting:

Provided that such appointment shall be subject to ratification in every annual general meeting till the sixth such meeting by way of passing of an ordinary resolution.

Explanation.—For the purposes of this rule, it is hereby clarified that, if the appointment is not ratified by the members of the company, the Board of Directors shall appoint another individual or firm as its auditor or auditors after following the procedure laid down in this behalf under the Act.

Rule 4. Conditions for appointment and notice to Registrar.—(1) The auditor appointed under rule 3 shall submit a certificate that—

(a) the individual or the firm, as the case may be, is eligible for appointment and is not disqualified for appointment under the Act, the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 and the rules or regulations made thereunder;

(b) the proposed appointment is as per the term provided under the Act;

(c) the proposed appointment is within the limits laid down by or under the authority of the Act;

(d) the list of proceedings against the auditor or audit firm or any partner of the audit firm pending with respect to professional matters of conduct, as disclosed in the certificate, is true and correct.

(2) The notice to Registrar about appointment of auditor under fourth proviso to sub-section (1) of section 139 shall be in [Form ADT-1][1].

Rule 5. Class of Companies.—For the purposes of sub-section (2) of section 139, the class of companies shall mean the following classes of companies excluding one person companies and small companies:-

(a) all unlisted public companies having paid up share capital of rupees ten crore or more;

(b) all private limited companies having paid up share capital of rupees [3][fifty] crore or more;

(c) all companies having paid up share capital of below threshold limit mentioned in (a) and (b) above, but having public borrowings from financial institutions, banks or public deposits of rupees fifty crores or more.

Rule 6. Manner of rotation of auditors by the companies on expiry of their term.—(1) The Audit Committee shall recommend to the Board, the name of an individual auditor or of an audit firm who may replace the incumbent auditor on expiry of the term of such incumbent.

(2) Where a company is required to constitute an Audit Committee, the Board shall consider the recommendation of such committee, and in other cases, the Board shall itself consider the matter of rotation of auditors and make its recommendation for appointment of the next auditor by the members in annual general meeting.

(3) For the purpose of the rotation of auditors—

(i) in case of an auditor (whether an individual or audit firm), the period for which the individual or the firm has held office as auditor prior to the commencement of the Act shall be taken into account for calculating the period of five consecutive years or ten consecutive years, as the case may be;

(ii) the incoming auditor or audit firm shall not be eligible if such auditor or audit firm is associated with the outgoing auditor or audit firm under the same network of audit firms.

Explanation. I.—For the purposes of these rules the term “same network” includes the firms operating or functioning, hitherto or in future, under the same brand name, trade name or common control.

Explanation. II.—For the purpose of rotation of auditors,—

(a) a break in the term for a continuous period of five years shall be considered as fulfilling the requirement of rotation;

(b) if a partner, who is in charge of an audit firm and also certifies the financial statements of the company, retires from the said firm and joins another firm of chartered accountants, such other firm shall also be ineligible to be appointed for a period of five years.

Illustration explaining rotation in case of individual auditor

Illustration 1:

Number of consecutive years for which an individual auditor has been functioning as auditor in the same company [in the first AGM held after the commencement of provisions of section 139(2)] Maximum number of consecutive years for which he may be appointed in the same company (including transitional period) Aggregate period which the auditor would complete in the same company in view of column I and II
I II II
5 years (or more than 5 years) 3 years 8 years or more
4 years 3 years 7 years
3 years 3 years 6 years
2 years 3 years 5 years
1 year 4 years 5 years

 

Note: 1. Individual auditor shall include other individuals or firms whose name or trade mark or brand is used by such individual, if any.

  1. Consecutive years shall mean all the preceding financial years for which the individual auditor has been the auditor until there has been a break by five years or more.

Illustration explaining rotation in case of audit firm

Illustration 2:

Number of consecutive years for which an audit firm has been functioning as auditor in the same company [in the first AGM held after the commencement of provisions of section 139(2)] Maximum number of consecutive years for which the firm may be appointed in the same company (including transitional period) Aggregate period which the firm would complete in the same company in view of column I and II
I II III
10 years (or more than 10 years) 3 years 13 years or more
9 years 3 years 12 years
8 years 3 years 11 years
7 years 3 years 10 years
6 years 4 years 10 years
5 years 5 years 10 years
4 years 6 years 10 years
3 years 7 years 10 years
2 years 8 years 10 years
1 year 9 years 10 years

 

Note: 1. Audit Firm shall include other firms whose name or trade mark or brand is used by the firm or any of its partners.

  1. Consecutive years shall mean all the preceding financial years for which the firm has been the auditor until there has been a break by five years or more.

(4) Where a company has appointed two or more individuals or firms or a combination thereof as joint auditors, the company may follow the rotation of auditors in such a manner that both or all of the joint auditors, as the case may be, do not complete their term in the same year.

Rule 9. Liability to devolve on concerned partners only: In case of criminal liability of any audit firm, the liability other than fine, shall devolve only on the concerned partner or partners, who acted in a fraudulent manner or abetted or, as the case may be, colluded in any fraud.

Applicable Circulars

Clarification with regard to applicability of provisions of Section 139(5) and 139(7) of the Companies Act, 2013

General Circular No. 33/2014 dated 31-7-2014

Doubts have been raised about applicability of sections 139(5) and 139(7) of the Companies Act, 2013 (New Act), which deal with appointment of auditors by Comptroller and Auditor General of India (C&AG), to deemed Government Companies’ referred to in section 619B of the Companies-Act 1956 (Old Act) i.e. companies where ownership or control lies with two or more Government companies or corporations etc in the manner detailed in section 619B ibid, Stakeholders have pointed out that the New Act does not contain specific provisions about _deemed Government companies’ on the lines of section 619B of the Old Act. Clarification has been sought whether, under the new Act, such deemed Government companies would be subject to audit by the C&AG in the same manner as Government Companies.’

2. The above issue has been examined and it is clarified that the new Act does not alter the position with regard to audit of such deemed Government companies through C & AG and thus such companies are covered under sub-section (5) and (7) of section 139 of the New Act.

3. Further, it has also been observed that the words “any other company owned or controlled, directly or indirectly ………… by the Central Government and partly by one or more State Governments” appearing in sub-sections (5) and (7) of section 139 of the New Act are to be read with the definition of control in section 2(27) of the New Act. Thus documents like articles of association and shareholders agreements etc envisaging control under section 2(27) are to be taken into account while deciding whether an individual company, other than those referred in paragraph 1-2 above, is covered under section 139(5) / 139(7) of the New Act.

4. Clarification has also been sought about the manner in which the information about incorporation of a company subject to audit by an auditor to be appointed by the C&AG is to be communicated to the C&AG for the purpose of appointment of first auditors under section 139(7) of the New Act. It is hereby clarified that such responsibility rests with both, the Government concerned and the relevant company. To avoid any confusion it is further clarified that it will primarily be the responsibility of the company concerned to intimate to the C&AG about its incorporation along with name, location of registered office, capital structure of such a company immediately on its incorporation. It is also incumbent on such a company to share such intimation to the relevant Government so that such Government may also send a suitable request to the C&AG.

[1] Form ADT-1 introduced as an eForm w.e.f. 6th Oct, 2014.

[2] Substituted by the Companies (Removal of Difficulties) Third Order, 2016 vide Order No. 1/33/2013-CL-V dated 30th June, 2016. Prior to the substitution it read as under:

“Provided also that every company, existing on or before the commencement of this Act which is required to comply with provisions of this sub-section, shall comply with the requirements of this sub-section within three years from the date of commencement of this Act:”

[3] Substituted for the words “twenty” by Companies (Audit and Auditors) Second Amendment Rules, 2017 vide notification no. G.S.R. 621(E) dated 22nd June 2017.

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