SUNIL AGRO FOODS WHISTLE BLOWER POLICY
a. The Company believes in the conduct of the affairs of its constituents in a fair and transparent manner by adopting highest standards of professionalism, honesty, integrity and ethical behavior. Towards this end, the Company has adopted the Sunil Agro Foods Code of Conduct (“the Code”), which lays down the principles and standards that should govern the actions of the Company and its employees. Any actual or potential violation of the Code, howsoever insignificant or perceived as such, would be a matter of serious concern for the Company. The role of the employees in pointing out such violations of the Code cannot be undermined. There is a provision under the Code requiring employees to report violations, which states:
“Clause: 25 Reporting Concerns
“Every employee of Sunil Agro Foods shall promptly report to the management, and / or third-party ethics helpline, when she / he becomes aware of any actual or possible violation of the Code or an event of misconduct, act of misdemeanor or act not in the company’s interest.
Any Sunil Agro Foods Limited employees can choose to make a protected disclosure under the whistleblower policy of the company, providing for reporting to the chairperson of the audit committee or the board of directors or specified authority. Such a protected disclosure shall be forwarded, when there is reasonable evidence to conclude that a violation is possible or has taken place, with a covering letter, which may bear the identity of the whistleblower.
The company shall ensure protection to the whistleblower and any attempts to intimidate him/her would be treated as a violation of the Code”
b. Section 177 (9) of the Companies Act, 2013 read with Rule 7 of the Companies (Meeting of Board and its Powers) Rules, 2014 mandates the following classes of companies to constitute a vigil mechanism –
Every listed company;
Every other company which accepts deposits from the public;
Every company which has borrowed money from banks and public financial institutions in excess of Rs. 50 crores.
Further, Clause 49 of the Listing Agreement between listed companies and the Stock Exchanges has been recently amended which, inter alia, provides for a mandatory requirement for all listed companies to establish a mechanism called the ‘Whistleblower Policy’ for directors and employees to report concerns of unethical behavior, actual or suspected, fraud or violation of the Company’s code of conduct or ethics policy.
A. the receipt, retention, and treatment of complaints received by the Company regarding accounting, internal accounting controls, or auditing matters; and
B. the confidential, anonymous submission by employees of the Company of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters.
C. Accordingly, this Whistleblower Policy (“the Policy”) has been formulated with a view to provide a mechanism for directors and employees of the Company to approach the Ethics Counsellor / Chairman of the Audit Committee of the Company.
The Company is committed to adhere to the highest standards of ethical, moral and legal conduct of business operations. To maintain these standards, the Company encourages its employees who have concerns about suspected misconduct in any form to come forward and express these concerns without fear of punishment or unfair treatment. The policy aims to provide an avenue for employees to raise concerns of any violations of legal or regulatory requirements, incorrect or misrepresentation of facts.
The definitions of some of the key terms used in this Policy are given below. Capitalized terms not defined herein shall have the meaning assigned to them under the Code.
a. “Audit Committee” means the Audit Committee constituted by the Board of Directors of the Company in accordance with Section 177 of the Companies Act, 2013 and read with Clause 49 of the Listing Agreement with the Stock Exchanges.
b. “Employee” means every employee of the Company (whether working in India or abroad), including the directors in the employment of the Company.
c. “Code” means the Sunil Agro Foods Code of Conduct.
d. “Investigators” mean those persons authorised, appointed, consulted or approached by the Ethics Counsellor/Chairman of the Audit Committee and includes the auditors of the Company and the police.
e. “Protected Disclosure” means any communication made in good faith that discloses or demonstrates information that may evidence unethical or improper activity.
f. “Subject” means a person against or in relation to whom a Protected Disclosure has been made or evidence gathered during the course of an investigation.
g. “Whistleblower” means an employee or director making a Protected Disclosure under this Policy.
a. This Policy is an extension of the Sunil Agro Foods Code of Conduct. The Whistleblower’s role is that of a reporting party with reliable information. They are not required or expected to act as investigators or finders of facts, nor would they determine the appropriate corrective or remedial action that may be warranted in a given case.
b. Whistleblowers should not act on their own in conducting any investigative activities, nor do they have a right to participate in any investigative activities other than as requested by the Ethics Counsellor or the Chairman of the Audit Committee or the Investigators.
c. Protected Disclosure will be appropriately dealt with by the Ethics Counsellor or the Chairman of the Audit Committee, as the case may be.
All employees and directors of the Company are eligible to make Protected Disclosures under the Policy. The Protected Disclosures may be in relation to matters concerning the Company or any other group company of Sunil Agro Foods.
a. While it will be ensured that genuine Whistleblowers are accorded complete protection from any kind of unfair treatment as herein set out, any abuse of this protection will warrant disciplinary action.
b. Protection under this Policy would not mean protection from disciplinary action arising out of false or bogus allegations made by a Whistleblower knowing it to be false or bogus or with a mala fide intention.
c. Whistleblowers, who make three or more Protected Disclosures, which have been subsequently found to be mala fide, frivolous, baseless, malicious, or reported otherwise than in good faith, will be disqualified from reporting further Protected Disclosures under this Policy. In respect of such Whistleblowers, the Company/Audit Committee would reserve its right to take/recommend appropriate disciplinary action.
a. All Protected Disclosures concerning financial/accounting matters should be addressed to the Chairman of the Audit Committee of the Company for investigation.
b. In respect of all other Protected Disclosures, those concerning the Ethics Counsellor and employees at the levels of Vice Presidents and above should be addressed to the Chairman of the Audit Committee of the Company and those concerning other employees should be addressed to the Ethics Counsellor of the Company.
c. The contact details of the Chairman of the Audit Committee are as under:
Name : Mr. AVS Murthy
Email id : email@example.com
Phone : 9845072215
FAX : 080-22874175
Appropriate care must be taken to keep the identity of the Whistleblower confidential.
e. Protected Disclosures should preferably be reported in writing so as to ensure a clear understanding of the issues raised and should either be typed or written in a legible handwriting in English, Hindi or in the regional language of the place of employment of the Whistleblower.
f. The Protected Disclosure should be forwarded under a covering letter which may bear the identity of the Whistleblower. The Chairman of the Audit Committee / Ethics Counsellor, as the case may be shall detach the covering letter and forward only the Protected Disclosure to the Investigators for investigation.
g. Protected Disclosures should be factual and not speculative or in the nature of a conclusion, and should contain as much specific information as possible to allow for proper assessment of the nature and extent of the concern and the urgency of a preliminary investigative procedure.
h. The Whistleblower may disclose his/her identity in the covering letter forwarding such Protected Disclosure. Anonymous disclosures will also be entertained. However it may not be possible to interview the Whistleblowers and grant him/her protection under the policy.
a. All Protected Disclosures reported under this Policy will be thoroughly investigated by the Ethics Counsellor / Chairman of the Audit Committee of the Company who will investigate / oversee the investigations under the authorization of the Audit Committee. If any member of the Audit Committee has a conflict of interest in any given case, then he/she should recuse himself/herself and the other members of the Audit Committee should deal with the matter on hand.
b. The Ethics Counsellor / Chairman of the Audit Committee may at their discretion, consider involving any Investigators for the purpose of investigation.
c. The decision to conduct an investigation taken by the Ethics Counsellor / Chairman of the Audit Committee is by itself not an accusation and is to be treated as a neutral fact-finding process. The outcome of the investigation may not support the conclusion of the Whistleblower that an improper or unethical act was committed.
d. The identity of a Subject will be kept confidential to the extent possible given the legitimate needs of law and the investigation.
e. Subjects will normally be informed of the allegations at the outset of a formal investigation and have opportunities for providing their inputs during the investigation.
f. Subjects shall have a duty to co-operate with the Ethics Counsellor / Chairman of the Audit Committee or any of the Investigators during investigation to the extent that such co-operation will not compromise self-incrimination protections available under the applicable laws.
g. Subjects have a right to consult with a person or persons of their choice, other than the Ethics Counsellor / Investigators and/or members of the Audit Committee and/or the Whistleblower. Subjects shall be free at any time to engage counsel at their own cost to represent them in the investigation proceedings.
h. Subjects have a responsibility not to interfere with the investigation. Evidence shall not be withheld, destroyed or tampered with, and witnesses shall not be influenced, coached, threatened or intimidated by the Subjects.
i. Unless there are compelling reasons not to do so, Subjects will be given the opportunity to respond to material findings contained in an investigation report. No allegation of wrongdoing against a Subject shall be considered as maintainable unless there is good evidence in support of the allegation.
j. Subjects have a right to be informed of the outcome of the investigation. If allegations are not sustained, the Subject should be consulted as to whether public disclosure of the investigation results would be in the best interest of the Subject and the Company.
k. The investigation shall be completed normally within 45 days of the receipt of the Protected Disclosure
a. No unfair treatment will be meted out to a Whistleblower by virtue of his/her having reported a Protected Disclosure under this Policy. The Company, as a policy, condemns any kind of discrimination, harassment, victimization or any other unfair employment practice being adopted against Whistleblowers. Complete protection will, therefore, be given to Whistleblowers against any unfair practice like retaliation, threat or intimidation of termination/suspension of service, disciplinary action, transfer, demotion, refusal of promotion, or the like including any direct or indirect use of authority to obstruct the Whistleblower’s right to continue to perform his/her duties/functions including making further Protected Disclosure. The Company will take steps to minimize difficulties, which the Whistleblower may experience as a result of making the Protected Disclosure. Thus, if the Whistleblower is required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings, the Company will arrange for the Whistleblower to receive advice about the procedure, etc.
b. A Whistleblower may report any violation of the above clause to the Chairman of the Audit Committee, who shall investigate into the same and recommend suitable action to the management.
c. The identity of the Whistleblower shall be kept confidential to the extent possible and permitted under law. Whistleblowers are cautioned that their identity may become known for reasons outside the control of the Ethics Counsellor / Chairman of the Audit Committee (e.g. during investigations carried out by Investigators).
d. Any other Employee assisting in the said investigation shall also be protected to the same extent as the Whistleblower.
a. Investigators are required to conduct a process towards fact-finding and analysis. Investigators shall derive their authority and access rights from the Ethics Counsellor / Audit Committee when acting within the course and scope of their investigation.
b. Technical and other resources may be drawn upon as necessary to augment the investigation. All Investigators shall be independent and unbiased both in fact and as perceived. Investigators have a duty of fairness, objectivity, thoroughness, ethical behavior, and observance of legal and professional standards.
c. Investigations will be launched only after a preliminary review which establishes that:
i. the alleged act constitutes an improper or unethical activity or conduct, and
ii. either the allegation is supported by information specific enough to be investigated, or matters that do not meet this standard may be worthy of management review, but investigation itself should not be undertaken as an investigation of an improper or unethical activity.
If an investigation leads the Ethics Counsellor / Chairman of the Audit Committee to conclude that an improper or unethical act has been committed, the Ethics Counsellor / Chairman of the Audit Committee shall recommend to the management of the Company to take such disciplinary or corrective action as the Ethics Counsellor / Chairman of the Audit Committee deems fit. It is clarified that any disciplinary or corrective action initiated against the Subject as a result of the findings of an investigation pursuant to this Policy shall adhere to the applicable personnel or staff conduct and disciplinary procedures.
The Ethics Counsellor shall submit a report to the Audit Committee on a regular basis about all Protected Disclosures referred to him/her since the last report together with the results of investigations, if any.
13. Retention of documents
All Protected Disclosures in writing or documented along with the results of investigation relating thereto shall be retained by the Company for a minimum period of seven years.
The Company reserves its right to amend or modify this Policy in whole or in part, at any time without assigning any reason whatsoever. However, no such amendment or modification will be binding on the employees and directors unless the same is notified to the employees and directors in writing.