Markets regulator Sebi on Wednesday came out with a mechanism to make the e-voting process more secure, convenient and simple for shareholders.
To increase the efficiency of the voting process, it has been decided to enable e-voting for all demat account holders by way of a single login credential through their demat accounts and websites of depositories, Sebi said in a circular.
Demat account holders would be able to cast their votes without having to register again with the e-voting service providers (ESPs), thereby not only facilitating seamless authentication but also enhancing ease and convenience of participating in the e-voting process. This will be implemented in a phased manner, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) said.
Currently, there are multiple ESPs providing e-voting facility to listed entities in the country. This necessitates registration on various ESPs and maintenance of multiple user IDs and passwords by the shareholders.
Under phase 1, Sebi said shareholders can directly register with depositories wherein they would be able to access the e-voting page of various ESPs through the websites of the depositories without further authentication by ESPs.
Alternatively, demat account holders will have the option of accessing various ESP portals directly from their demat accounts. After this, they would be routed to the webpage of the respective depositories from their demat accounts, which in turn would enable access to the e-voting portals of various ESPs without further authentication.
The authentication of shareholders would happen at the depository level and ESPs would allow the demat account holders to cast their vote based on the validation carried out by the depository.
The depository would have to send a confirmatory SMS to the shareholders that the vote has been cast based on the confirmation received from the ESP.
The listed entity would provide the details of the upcoming AGMs requiring voting to the depository. The depository would send SMS/e-mail alerts in this regard to the demat account holders at least two days prior to the date of the commencement of e-voting.
In order to further enhance the convenience and security of the e-voting system, the depository will have to validate the demat account holder through a One Time Password (OTP) verification process under phase 2.
Phase 1 will be implemented within six months, while phase 2 would be put in place within 12 months from the completion of the phase 1 process.
The depository may advise the demat account holders to update their mobile number and e-mail ID in order to access the e-voting facility.
According to Sebi, depositories would have to establish a dedicated helpline to resolve technical difficulties faced by shareholders relating to the e-voting facility.
Further, the listed company would have to ensure that the ESPs engaged by them also provide a dedicated helpline in this regard.
In order to enable better deliberations and decision making by shareholders while casting their votes, ESP portals would have to provide specific weblinks to the disclosures by the company on the websites of the exchanges and report on the websites of the proxy advisors.
Sebi said the facility needs to be made available to all individual shareholders holding the securities in demat mode.
ESPs may continue to provide the facility of e-voting as per the existing process to all physical shareholders and shareholders other than individuals -- institutions or corporate shareholders.
Sebi has advised depositories and exchanges to bring this framework to the notice of its depository participants and listed companies respectively.
Also, all listed companies have been asked to notify the process available to demat account holders for e-voting in the notice sent to shareholders.
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