Sick Industrial Companies Act (SICA) Explained
The Sick Industrial Companies Act (SICA) of 1985 aimed to address industrial sickness in India by identifying and revitalizing or closing unviable companies. It recognized internal and external factors that cause industrial sickness and established the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) and the Appellate Authority for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (AAIFR). In 2003, SICA was replaced by the Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Repeal Act, which aimed to prevent misuse of sickness declarations. SICA's repeal in 2016 was due to overlaps with other laws.
The Sick Industrial Companies Act, enacted in 1985 in India, was a significant legislative response to the widespread issue of industrial sickness within the country's economy. This act was introduced to identify and address the challenges posed by non-viable industrial units, either by revitalizing them or by facilitating their orderly closure, thus releasing capital for more productive investments.
Industrial sickness had become a chronic problem in the Indian economic landscape, prompting the need for SICA. The act defined a sick industrial unit as one that had been in operation for a minimum of five years and had accumulated losses exceeding its entire net worth by the end of any financial year.
SICA recognized a range of factors contributing to industrial sickness. These encompassed both internal issues within organizations and external challenges. Internal factors included mismanagement, poor project execution, overestimation of demand, unwise expansion, inadequate modernization, personal extravagance, and strained labor-management relationships. On the external front, energy shortages, scarcity of raw materials, infrastructure bottlenecks, limited credit access, technological shifts, and global market dynamics played crucial roles.
Impact on the Economy
The repercussions of widespread industrial sickness were far-reaching. These included reduced government revenue, the tying up of valuable resources in non-viable units, increased non-performing assets for financial institutions, heightened unemployment, decreased production output, and diminished overall productivity. The implementation of SICA aimed to rectify these adverse socio-economic effects.
Provisions of SICA
Key to SICA's operational framework was the establishment of two quasi-judicial bodies: the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction and the Appellate Authority for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction. The BIFR assumed the role of the apex board, responsible for addressing industrial sickness. Its tasks included the revival of potentially sick units and the liquidation of unviable companies. The AAIFR, on the other hand, served as the forum for appeals against BIFR decisions.
Transition to the Repeal of SICA
The Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Repeal Act was introduced in 2003, replacing SICA. This new act aimed to prevent misuse of the sickness declaration and close certain legal loopholes. Notably, it aimed to curb the increasing incidence of companies declaring sickness as a means to evade legal obligations and gain concessions from financial institutions.
The Sick Industrial Companies Act was a significant legislative response to industrial sickness in India. Its implementation aimed to identify and revitalize unviable companies or facilitate their closure. The act recognized both internal and external factors that contribute to industrial sickness and established two quasi-judicial bodies to address it. SICA was repealed in 2016 due to overlaps with other laws and replaced by the Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Repeal Act in 2003, which aimed to prevent misuse of sickness declarations.