Types of companies in India and their formation under the Companies Act, 2013

The definition of a company is prescribed under the Companies Act, 2013.

A company is an entity incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013, or under any previous company law.

A company is a legal entity or a legal person.

Companies have the right to enter into contracts with other parties and sue or can be sued in the court of law, possess and transfer properties in the same way as natural persons or incorporated association of persons.

Features of the Companies Act

Separate legal entity

  • A company is an independent or separate legal entity. It is an entity separate from its members.
  • Even if the members change, the company will continue to exist.
  • After incorporation, the company would continue to vest with a corporate personality having a distinct identity to that of the person who composed it.
  • If a shareholder holds the entire share capital, the company does not lose its identity even then.
  • The existence of a company is irrespective of its motives, intention, schemes or conduct of the shareholders.

Perpetual existence

  • A company does not have any physical existence, but it acts through its agents and all such contracts entered into by its agents under the seal of the company.
  • A company never dies. It survives till perpetuity. Therefore, it is an entity having perpetual succession.
  • A company has perpetual existence, and even if the company’s shares are transferred, and shareholders change, or there is a change in members, it continues to exist.

Common seal of the company

  • A common seal symbolises a company as a legal entity. It represents the company’s official signature and provides authorisation to any company’s document requiring authorisation.
  • It also authorises a person to act on behalf of the company. After the 2015 amendment in the company act, having a common seal for a company is not necessary; two directors or one director and one company secretary can authorise.

Limited liability of members

  • A company is the owner of its assets, and no one is liable for the debts taken by it. Members of a company are not its owner, so they are not even responsible for repaying its debts.
  • The company members are liable to the extent of the value of shares taken by them in a company limited by shares or the guarantee of the amount in a company limited by guarantee.

Transfer of shares

  • The shares, debentures or any other interest of a member in property are considered movable property that can be transferred. This feature of a company provides liquidity to members and stability to the company.
  • A member can sell his share in the market to recover his investment amount.

Capacity to sue or be sued

  • Because it is a corporate body or entity, a company can sue or be sued in its name.
  • A company can be sued for any default arising on its part.
  • A company can sue for any acts of other party affecting the goodwill of a company causing losses to it.
  • A person must represent it in a court of law.

Types of business entities in India

Companies are classified based on the following:

  • Incorporation
  • Number of members
  • Control
  • Liability
  • Access to capital

Companies classified based on incorporation are of two types:

  1. Statutory companies: Companies incorporated under an act of parliament or state legislature and not under any company law and are outside the purview of the companies act.
  2. Registered companies: These companies are incorporated under Section 7 of the companies act.

Companies classified based on control are of three types:

  1. Holding company: When a company holds the majority of shares in other companies and those other companies are the subsidiary of the parent company, the parent company is called a holding company [Section 2(46)].
  2. Subsidiary company: A company whose management is governed and regulated by a parent company or holding company is called a subsidiary company [Section 2(86)].
  3. Associate company: A company in which another company has significant influence but is not a subsidiary company, then the company is called an associate company [Section 2(6)].

Based on access to capital, companies are classified into the following two categories:

  1. Listed company: Any company whose securities are listed on any recognised stock exchange for public trading is termed as a listed company [Section 2(56)].
  2. Unlisted company: Any privately owned company whose securities are not listed on any stock exchange is an unlisted company

Based on the number of members, companies are classified into the following three categories:

  1. One person company: A company that is incorporated with one person as a member [Section 2(62)]
  2. Private company: A company that is restricted to set its member limit up to a maximum of 200 having minimum paid-up share capital prescribed. No investor can subscribe to its securities [Section 2(68)].
  3. Public companies: A public limited company should have a minimum of seven members and can extend up to unlimited members. It is not a private company and issues its shares through initial public offerings (IPOs) for trading in the open market without any restriction on the transferability of shares.

    A subsidiary company of a public company is also deemed as a public company, even if the subsidiary company is a private company.

    The company members’ liability is limited by the value of shares they owned or the amount each member consented to contribute at its winding up.

Based on the limited liability of members, companies are classified into three categories:

  1. Limited by share: A company limited by share has the liability of its members that is restricted to the percentage value of shares owned by them.

    A company having the liability of its members limited by the memorandum of association(MoA) of that company extending up to the amount unpaid on the shares respectively held by them is a company limited by shares [Section 2(22)].

    Note: An MoA is a document prepared during the incorporation of a company to define its relationship with its shareholders and specify its objectives.

  2. Limited by guarantee: In this company, the liability of members is limited to the amount they consented to contribute in the process of winding up a company.
  3. The liability of members is a fixed amount specified in the company’s memorandum under Section 4 of the Companies Act, 2013, decided by them to furnish when a company is dissolved.

    Unlimited: A complete company does not have any limit on the liability of its members [Section 2(92)].

Other types of companies in India

Foreign companies

These businesses are mostly registered outside India. The companies whose shareholding increases to more than 50% in a company established in India are Indian subsidiaries of a foreign company.

Production companies

A production company is registered with a minimum of ten members and can extend up to unlimited members. Such companies primarily handle the production works in the farming sector, including selling and export.

Similarly, similar to other companies, the liability of its members is limited to the extent of unpaid share capital by its members.

A producer company is deemed a private limited company, but the number of members does not apply to the same.

Companies incorporated under Section 8 of the Companies Act

Under section 8 of the Companies Act, these companies are registered and incorporated for charitable purposes and non-profit organisations.

These companies enjoy special status and some exceptions because of their registration under Section 8 of the act.

Small companies

Small companies are categorised as small companies considering their size and paid-up capital and turnover.

Companies are not public companies or do not come under the category of any company mentioned.

Its paid-up share capital should exceed 50 lakh rupees.

The turnover of these companies should not exceed 2 crore rupees.


The Companies Act, 2013, governs and regulates the incorporation, management, and dissolving of a company. It prescribes the provision for the various types of companies in India and their categorisation based on its number of members, the liability of members, control.

The act lays the exceptions and the provisions for penalties for any company’s act in contravention of the act.

The Companies Act brought all types of companies under the purview legislature, making it easy to protect investors, consumers, members, and shareholders interests. It restricts companies from evading money and maintaining their diaries, minutes of meetings, MOA, AOA, among others.

The act lays provisions so the list of all the companies running their work in our country is under the registrar of companies and business entities that are incorporated are safe for collaborations and working.

FAQ Regarding Types Of Companies In India

Which Section of the Companies Act, 2013, laid provision for incorporating a company?

Section 7 of the Companies Act laid provision for the incorporation of a company.

Which section of the Companies Act prescribes provisions for forming the various types of companies?

Section 3 of this act prescribes provisions for forming different types of companies in India.

In which case the supreme court held that a shareholder does not have the right to sue for violation of the fundamental rights of a company?

The Supreme made a decision to this effect in the Charanjit Lal Chowdhury v. Union of India 1951 AIR 41.

In which case, the apex court held that ‘income received by shareholders in the form of dividends from the company’s agricultural income is not considered an agricultural income’?

The apex court made this decision in the case Bacha F Guzdar v. Commissioner of Income Tax 1955 AIR 740.