The present paper explores the association between earnings management and specific board characteristics and the firm's profitability in the Indian context. In India, the corporate ownership model is the promoter dominated shareholders model. This is the first study based on a panel data framework that employs a fixed effect model to control for time‐invariant endogeneity. It also contributes to the literature by exploring the role of the firm's profitability in transmitting the impact of audit committee independence on earnings management. The study finds that profitability is an important variable, as it moderates the association between audit committee independence and earnings management. Managers of a profit‐making company would have little need to modify their earnings. This signifies that independent audit committees are more effective monitors of earnings management in profitable firms than in non‐profitable firms. Independent directors with multiple directorships are also found to be ineffective monitors. The findings are of material significance to policymakers in analysing board effectiveness and earnings management and improving policymaking for corporate governance by using profitability and related variables.