The prestigious Chartered Accountancy examination is scheduled to be held between July 29 and August 16. Most students have demanded that the exams be postponed in view of the coronavirus crisis. Recently, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) said that students can opt-out of the July exam and carry forward their candidature to the November exam. For students who choose not to opt-out of the exam, the CA exam regulator will conduct exams from July 29. Meanwhile, the matter has reached the Supreme Court of India.
A plea in the Supreme Court has challenged ICAI's "opt-out" option for CA exams. The plea has alleged that ICAI had made an important announcement on June 15 by which it "arbitrarily decided to discriminate" between the aspirants by providing an option of "opt-out" in the May cycle CA exams.
"It is respectfully submitted that ICAI has notified that for the students who choose the opt-out option, this attempt (May 2020) will be treated as cancelled/not counted. Thus, such students will be deprived of May 2020, attempt, as compared to other groups of students, who choose the opt-in option," the plea said as it sought to quash the announcement made by ICAI on June 15.
The plea further alleged that the "opt-out" option discriminates between those underprivileged group of CA students/aspirants who are living in remote areas of the country or living in the containment zones and thus are slated to lose one precious 'examination attempt by choosing "opt-out" option amid the ongoing pandemic, as compared to that privileged group of students/aspirants, who are living in big cities/green zones and thus they have no problem in appearing in the said examination.
The plea also sought an increase in the number of examination centres to ensure at least one examination centre in every district of India. It said that around 4.67 lakh aspirants are scheduled to appear in the CA examinations at about 259 examination centres in India and five centres abroad. The plea stressed that free transportation and accommodation should be provided to the aspirants near their respective examination centres. Also, the petitioners have also sought directions to the authorities to conduct mandatory free COVID-19 test of all aspirants, teachers and staff stationed at the examination centres.
The counsel appearing for ICAI before the country's top court said that the institute has ensured no prejudice is caused to anybody by the notification issued regarding the upcoming July examination. Meanwhile, the ICAI extended the deadline of the exam opt-out facility till June 30. On successful submission of declaration form online, the candidature of the student for May 2020 exam cycle will be cancelled and the student will be shifted to the next cycle.
Students are left in the lurch as they still await a final decision on the key examination. Some are totally against the holding of the July examination while others are not satisfied with the "opt-out" facility.
"We students are keener to give the exam than the desire of ICAI to conduct it. But considering the severe threat to our health, it is more prudent and safe to conduct the same in November. Four months of delay can't compare to our life," Abhishek Ghosh, a student said.
"It's getting tougher for our us students. People talking about mental health and stuffs but not providing any mental peace. How can national level exams can be conducted in these times. I don't know what everybody is analysing since a month when situation is worsening day by day," another CA aspirant wrote.
Susmitha, a student said many states have begun imposing a lockdown again."We are just clueless about the Covid situation in July and we are forced to take the decision on opting out from the exams now itself," she said in a message.
"At a time when corona cases are increasing exponentially, ICAI is conducting exam which can easily be shifted to November as ICAI conducts exams twice a year," another student raised his concern.
CA NEERAJ ARORA'S TAKE
"ICAI can cancel exams only if the ministry says so or if the Supreme Court directs or maybe when the institute considers the coronavirus situation to have worsened. Otherwise, I don't think the institute is going to cancel the exams. I would refrain from speaking more as the matter is before the Supreme Court," Neeraj Arora, a CA faculty and an educator told India TV. He also requested students to focus on both their studies and health.