Bombay HC Upset over Vidarbha Companies’ non-utilisation of CSR funds for COVID relief

Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court on May 20 expressed it unhappiness at the poor response shown by private companies in the Vidarbha region to the appeal made by it to use CSR funds for Covid-19 relief. Though the Court had attempted to get detailed information about the availability of CSR funds with different private sector companies operating in Vidarbha Region through Vidarbha Industries Association, Nagpur, the response was discouraging. 

 “But, the response that this Court has received so far from different companies is not encouraging”, observed a division bench comprising Justices Sunil Shukre and Avinash G Gharote. 

The Court attempt was part of efforts to strengthen the health care system in the Vidarbha Region, especially given the Covid -19 pandemic. So, according to the bench, it expected not only from the State Government but also from the public sector companies and private sector companies to contribute to the noble cause. While the some public sector companies like WCl / CIL and MOIL have been so far extremely good, the same is not with the private sector companies. We have also not received any response from such public sector companies as NTPC,MAHAGENCO (Power Generation), MAHAGENCO(Power Transmission) and MSEDCL. There are also big companies like Tirora Thermal Power Station, Gondia and various cement manufacturing plants at Chandrapur,” the bench observed.

 “When these corporate entities are enjoined with a statutory duty (See section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013), it is expected that these companies discharge their duties whenever they are called upon to do so and in our opinion, there could have been no better opportunity than the present time and present cause to discharge such duty”, the Court said.

It warned that if these companies do not respond to the appeals made by the Court, it will issue necessary directions “for making these companies wake up and answer the call of their duty”.

The bench passed the order in the suo moto case to deal with COVID-19 issues in the Vidarbha region. The matter will be next considered on May 27.To see the order, visit LiveLaw

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