What do you understand by Oppression and Mismanagement in a company?

This article will explore the meaning and prevention of oppression and mismanagement in a company. The Companies Act, 2013 does not provide specific definitions for "oppression" and "mismanagement." These terms are left to the court's interpretation based on the circumstances of each case. Mismanagement entails the incompetent and dishonest management of a company, including violations of the Memorandum of Association, Articles of Association, or statutory provisions. An act of oppression within a company typically involves actions that violate the principle of fair dealing, including infringing on members' rights, pursuing actions detrimental to the company's objectives, or making high-risk decisions. These actions can be detrimental to the company's goals and the general public interest

What do you understand by Oppression and Mismanagement in a company?


The landmark case of Foss v. Harbottle (1843), 2 E&B 461, established the principle of preventing oppression and mismanagement in corporations. For the first time, the honorable court outlined the rule of majority, stating that a resolution passed by three-quarters of the company's members would bind the organization. Initially, the majority shareholder's decisions held greater weight than those of the minority shareholders. However, the 2013 Companies Act introduced a paradigm shift in this perspective, aiming to protect minority shareholders and foster long-term business growth.

When majority shareholders prioritize their personal interests over those of minority shareholders, neglecting their rights and benefits, such actions may constitute oppression under the relevant section. Similarly, engaging in fraudulent practices or misusing funds by the company's management could be categorized as mismanagement under Section 241. These provisions aim to safeguard the rights and interests of all shareholders, ensuring fair treatment and transparency within the company's operations. By identifying and addressing instances of oppression and mismanagement, regulatory bodies can uphold corporate governance standards, protect shareholder rights, and maintain the integrity of the business environment.


What constitutes an act Of Oppression in a Company?

An act of oppression within a company commonly involves actions that contravene the principle of fair dealing, such as infringing on members' rights, pursuing actions detrimental to the company's objectives, or making high-risk decisions. On the other hand, mismanagement encompasses a wide array of behaviors that are challenging to classify into specific categories. Generally, any conduct that deviates from the company's goals or is detrimental to the public interest can be deemed as mismanagement. This may involve improper director appointments, breaches of directorial duties, or any actions intended to defraud the public. By recognizing and addressing instances of oppression and mismanagement, regulatory bodies can uphold corporate integrity, protect stakeholders' interests, and ensure transparency and accountability within the business environment.


Laws on Oppression and Mismanagement in India

According to Section 241 of The Companies Act of 2013, any member who identifies instances of mismanagement can submit a complaint to the tribunal.

·         Section 241 (1B) states the scope of mismanagement,

·         Section 241 (1A) states what constitutes oppression.

·         Section 242 (2) states the tribunal’s authority.

If mismanagement or oppression is confirmed, the tribunal has the authority to grant relief to affected shareholders. The tribunal can enforce rules on the company's future operations, transfer shares to another member, dismiss management personnel, and impose fines. Examples of oppressive and inadequate management include biased and arbitrary company actions. By holding managers accountable for their actions, the tribunal ensures fairness, transparency, and accountability within the company, thereby protecting the rights and interests of all stakeholders.


Right to seek relief under Section 241 of Companies Act, 2013

Under Section 241 of the Companies Act, 2013, shareholders, debenture holders, or any class of them have the right to approach the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) if they believe the company's affairs are being conducted unfairly or against their interests. This provision empowers stakeholders to protect their rights and interests within the company's governance structure. By seeking legal help through the NCLT, shareholders and debenture holders can address issues of oppression or mismanagement and seek suitable solutions to rectify the situation. This right to apply under Section 241 ensures that stakeholders have a legal path to hold the company's management accountable and maintain fairness and transparency in corporate governance.

Remedies provided under Section 242 of Companies Act, 2013

Section 242 of the Companies Act, 2013 delineates the actions that the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) can take upon validating an application under Section 241. Upon confirming oppression or mismanagement, the NCLT can prescribe remedies to restore fairness, transparency, and effective management within the company. This may involve imposing regulations on the company's operations to prevent future instances of oppression or mismanagement through the implementation of new protocols, procedures, or oversight mechanisms.

Additionally, Section 242 empowers the NCLT to compel the acquisition of shares or interests held by any company members. This provision enables the tribunal to address scenarios where specific shareholders or members have suffered unfair treatment or disadvantages due to oppressive conduct or mismanagement within the company. By directing the purchase of shares, the NCLT can offer redress to affected parties and facilitate an equitable resolution to the conflict.

The NCLT's rulings are pivotal in safeguarding shareholder rights and maintaining a harmonious balance between shareholder interests and corporate governance. These decisions by the NCLT establish legal precedents for forthcoming corporate disputes, underscoring the significance of procedural diligence in corporate conflict resolution. In essence, Section 242 of the Companies Act, 2013 confers upon the NCLT the authority to take essential measures to rectify instances of oppression and mismanagement, thereby upholding corporate governance norms and safeguarding the welfare of shareholders and stakeholders.

Shareholders must ascertain their membership status before pursuing allegations of oppression and mismanagement to uphold fairness and deter unfounded claims. The Companies Act, 2013 furnishes a framework for shareholders to seek redress against actions detrimental to public interest or prejudicial to members, thereby broadening avenues for addressing past transgressions while upholding equilibrium between minority protections and mitigating unwarranted claims.

Landmark Judgment: Aruna Oswal vs. Pankaj Oswal & Others

·         The legal decision under Section 241 of the Companies Act, 2013 in the Aruna Oswal vs. Pankaj Oswal & Others case involved the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) ruling in favor of Aruna Oswal, the widow of Abhey Oswal, the founder of Oswal Agro Mills Ltd. The tribunal found that Pankaj Oswal, Abhey's son, and other board members engaged in unfair practices and mismanagement, including misusing company funds and mistreating minority shareholders.

·         As a resolution, the NCLT ordered Pankaj Oswal and others to sell their shares to a third party, providing relief to Aruna Oswal and other affected stakeholders.



The Companies Act of 2013, particularly Sections 241 and 242, plays a pivotal role in safeguarding shareholders' interests and promoting transparency in corporate governance. These legal provisions offer stakeholders a mechanism to tackle instances of oppression and mismanagement within companies. Noteworthy cases like the Aruna Oswal matter underscore the efficacy of these laws in holding company executives responsible for their actions. In essence, the Act fosters fairness, accountability, and trust in corporate operations, guaranteeing that companies function in the best interests of their stakeholders and make positive contributions to the economy.