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The Companies Act 1956 is an Act of the Parliament of India, enacted in 1956, which enabled companies to be formed by registration, and set out the responsibilities of companies, their directors and secretaries.

The Companies Act 1956 is administered by the Government of India through the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the Offices of Registrar of Companies, Official Liquidators, Public Trustee, Company Law Board, Director of Inspection, etc. The Registrar of Companies (ROC) handles incorporation of new companies and the administration of running companies.

Since its commencement, it has been amended many times, in which amendment of 1988, 1990, 1996, 2000 and 2011 are notable.

The first step in the formation of a company is the approval of the name by the Registrar of Companies (ROC) in the State/Union Territory in which the company will maintain its Registered Office. This approval is provided subject to certain conditions: for instance, there should not be an existing company by the same name. Further, the last words in the name are required to be "Private Ltd." in the case of a private company and "Limited" in the case of a Public Company. The application should mention at least four suitable names of the proposed company, in order of preference. In the case of a private limited company, the name of the company should end with the words "Private Limited" as the last words. In case of a public limited company, the name of the company should end with the word "Limited" as the last word. The ROC generally informs the applicant within seven days from the date of submission of the application, whether or not any of the names applied for is available. Once a name is approved, it is valid for a period of six months, within which time Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association together with miscellaneous documents should be filed. If one is unable to do so, an application may be made for renewal of name by paying additional fees. After obtaining the name approval, it normally takes approximately two to three weeks to incorporate a company depending on where the company is registered.