State-owned Punjab National Bank has decided that the national anthem will be played at every annual general meeting and extraordinary general meeting, which are usually held to seek the approval of shareholders on important matters, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
A shareholder had proposed the idea at the last annual general meeting on September 18, and it was approved by the bank’s Non-Executive Chairperson Sunil Mehta. The meeting was organised to adopt the bank’s audited balance sheet and profit and loss account for the 2017-’18 financial year.
Punjab National Bank has not yet commented on the matter.
Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Reserve Bank of India do not stipulate companies or banks to play the national anthem at such meetings. “I don’t think any other company in India plays the national anthem at AGMs and EGMs,” said Shriram Subramanian, founder and managing director of corporate governance advisory firm InGovern Research Services. “It is strange to impose the anthem on shareholders.”
Prithvi Haldea, the founder chairperson of PRIME Database, said it was not a common practice but many companies do play the national anthem at the beginning or end of important events. “I have been to many such corporate and government events,” Haldea added. “Why should anyone have a problem with playing the national anthem in the corporate sector?”
At the September meeting, the shareholders also decided to allot up to 10 crore equity shares to employees under the Employee Stock Purchase Scheme and issue shares to the government on a preferential basis to raise equity of Rs 2,816 crore. On September 26, the bank said it was planning to seek Rs 5,431 crore capital support from the government. The announcement came a day after Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley assured state-owned banks of the government’s support.
Earlier this year, the bank was affected by an alleged fraud committed by businessman Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi. A few officials at one of the bank’s branches in Mumbai allegedly handed out Letters of Undertaking to companies associated with Nirav Modi, allowing him to access massive foreign exchange loans that were unsecured.