State-owned Punjab National Bank, wracked by the Nirav Modi scam, has decided that the national anthem will be sung at every Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), usually held to seek shareholders’ approval on key decisions.
This idea was proposed by a shareholder of the bank at its last AGM and was approved by PNB’s Non-Executive Chairman Sunil Mehta, who chaired the meeting. Mehta informed the meeting held on September 18, 2018, that the national anthem will be sung at every AGM/EGM of the bank.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India and Reserve Bank of India rules do not require companies or banks to play the national anthem at AGMs and EGMs. The September 18 AGM of PNB was held to adopt the audited balance sheet and profit and loss account of the bank for year ended March 31, 2018.
The other two decisions taken by the AGM were to allot up to 10 crore equity shares to employees under the Employee Stock Purchase Scheme, and to issue shares to the government on a preferential basis to raise equity of Rs 2,816 crore. Later, the government also approved another tranche of Rs 5,431 crore of capital infusion in PNB.
“It’s not very common but many companies do play the national anthem at the start or at the end of important events. I have been to many such corporate and government events. Why should anyone have a problem with playing the national anthem in the corporate sector?” said Prithvi Haldea, Founder Chairman of PRIME Database.
“I don’t think any other company in India plays the National Anthem at AGMs and EGMs. It is strange to impose the anthem on shareholders,” said Shriram Subramanian, Founder and MD, InGovern Research Services, a corporate governance advisory firm. PNB did not respond to repeated queries seeking comment.
Since the Nirav Modi scam broke, PNB has embarked on a recovery of bad loans, sale of non-core assets and fund raising from the government to put its house in order. The bank suffered net losses of Rs 13,416 crore in January-March quarter in FY18 and Rs 940 crore in April-June and another Rs 4532 crore loss in July-September of the current fiscal year.