Phones, visitors not allowed: Inside story of central registration centre

Away from the hustle bustle of city glare, on the outskirts of Gurugram, sits the office of the Central Registration Centre (CRC) where all applications for registering a company’s name and incorporation are processed and given a final stamp of approval.


The address of the office, set up by the ministry of corporate affairs three years ago, is not exactly a secret but officials do not want to publicise any specific details of the organisation housed on the premises of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, Manesar. Reason? Formed with the purpose of taking away human interface and making the process of registration and incorporation speedier, the centre forbids interaction with any outsider.


The centre also has its own dedicated registrar. All officials, some working on contract and others recruited from the Indian Company Law Services, are told to leave their phones outside before they step into the office. No internet, except that on the desktop, is provided. And none of the employees are allowed to have any visitors during working hours.


A senior government official said a confidentiality agreement is signed by the employees to protect any information leak, which may affect the transparency of the process.


The government keeps a close watch on the employees to monitor their work, productivity, and conduct. “The main purpose of CRC is to provide speedy incorporation-related services in line with global best practices,” said the senior government official.


The first layer comprises nearly 100 company secretaries and the second more senior layer has around 25 officials picked from the Indian Company Law Services.


“The government has done away with human intervention in these processes...It has become very fast and the response time is significantly higher than before,” said Ankit Singhi, partner, Corporate Professionals.


Ever since it was set up, the centre boasts of smoothing the registration and incorporation process tremendously. Average time taken for registering a name has come down from five days in 2014 to 0.5 day in 2016 to 0.4 day in 2019.  The government has engaged Infosys to make the entire process electronic. “There were a few times when we saw a sudden spike in the time taken...October it is usually on account of festive season and public holidays and at other times we faced technical glitches,” the senior official said.


The ministry had revamped the whole system, including the manpower and the server, after it received complaints over the conduct of some of the company secretaries.


As soon as an application is filed, a complete random algorithm assigns the application to one of the company secretaries, who vets the documentation and flags off any correction that needs to be made before forwarding it to the ICLS officer. “You will definitely hear from us within four hours of making a name registration request. The response could be positive or negative. We give a couple of days time to come up with an alternative,” the senior official said.


Earlier, the same task was being undertaken by the 24 registrars of companies across the country. “Because there was a manual element, many would try to get a specific name cleared, which goes against the prescribed rules...Now these officials are free of any outside influence,” the official said.


For instance, in 2006, a person was charged with duping people of Rs 5,000 crore after registering a company under the name Bharati Gas — closely resembling Bharat Gas — then getting locals in Rajasthan to invest in fake petrol pumps contracts. “We get requests for names such as DDA private limited or Google or Reliance spelt differently,” the official added.

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