Jainping Li, a Chinese woman married to a Gujarati, no longer wants to launch a company in Gujarat again. In fact, she wants to shut down the organisation she is running now. Li, who set up a not-for-profit Gujarat Chinese Enterprises Association in 2019, complains that the Registrar of Companies (RoC), Ahmedabad, is harassing her for no fault of her.
The RoC on April 19, 2022, slapped a penalty of Rs 7 lakh on her organisation for failing to submit an annual return for the year ended March 31, 2020, without even ascertaining the reason.
Gujarat Chinese Enterprises Association was incorporated on December 9, 2019. The NGO was founded by her and her Chinese partner Weidong Yin. But no work could be started since the organisation didn’t have a bank account, which could not be opened since Yin was in China. He was stuck first because of the Covid-19 pandemic and later in the wake of the Sino-Indian conflict.
“We wanted to be a bridge between Chinese companies wanting to invest in Gujarat. We wanted to help companies overcome language barriers and help them connect with the right people. We started the organisation to strengthen foreign investments in Gujarat, but it all backfired,” Li told Vibes of India in Ahmedabad.
When the NGO was established they applied to HDFC Bank for opening their bank accounts but they were denied as the NGO co-founder Yin was in China and couldn’t remain present physically. “Weidong Yin left India in 2019 year-end and despite several requests, till date, he didn’t get an Indian Visa due to Covid and the issues at the international level. We presented this problem to the banks and the RoC but none of them is ready to hear us,” bemoans Jainping. She has been staying in Ahmedabad for over five years now with her Gujarati businessman husband with her children.
For any company or NGO to commence they have to open a bank account. Since Jainping’s organisation didn’t have a bank account, her NGO was established but never ‘Commenced’ in the eyes of the Companies Act. Despite that, the NGO has been penalised under Section 92(5) and Section 137(3) of the Companies Act, 2013.
The case is handled by the Registrar of Companies and Adjudicating Officer of Gujarat, MK Sahu. Presenting officer Trupti Sharma and technical assistant VS Tiwari were also present at the case’s hearing on March 16, 2022.
Jainping Li’s Company Secretary, requesting anonymity, told Vibes of India, “I met the head of RoC Ahmedabad MK Sahu along with ICLS officer Ankita Lahoty but none of them paid any heed to my request.”
“We requested them to strike off our firm but they didn’t even support us in closing the company. They have charged my client with over Rs 7 lakh fine despite knowing that we didn’t earn a single penny over the years. In fact, we don’t even have a bank account.”
Sino-India Strain Rubbing Off!
Li feels the government’s approach towards their organisation and the Chinese people changed in the past few years. International relations between India and China were different in 2019 and the whole scenario changed post-Covid in 2020.
In 2019, Jainping and Yi’s individual efforts became the catalyst for a Rs 10,500-crore investment promise by a Chinese firm to set up a China Industrial Park in the Dholera Special Investment Region. Former Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani, Chief Principal Secretary to the CM Kuniyil Kailashnathan, MK Das, former principal secretary to the CM, and other senior bureaucrats were present when the MoU was signed for this project and posed with Weidong Yin.
“We have not committed any crime but still we feel targeted just because we are Chinese. The RoC is biased toward Chinese people. International relations between the countries are strained but is this my fault? Why am I being harassed?” asks an angry Jainping who has been appealing to help shut her NGO and never start anything in Gujarat again.
(Vibes of India tried reaching RoC officials, but couldn’t elicit a response. The story will be updated if the reply comes).