ICAI tells SC that candidates who opted-out of CA exam will not lose opportunity

The apex court, which was hearing an application seeking a direction to the ICAI to conduct back up examination for opt-out candidates, asked the applicants to make a representation to the institute
Representative Image | Pic: Pixabay
Representative Image | Pic: Pixabay

Candidates who opted-out of the CA exam conducted in July because of COVID-19 related difficulties will not lose any opportunity, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) told the Supreme Court on Thursday.

The apex court, which was hearing an application seeking a direction to the ICAI to conduct back up examination for opt-out candidates, asked the applicants to make a representation on this to the institute. A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar was told by ICAI's counsel that an appropriate decision will be taken on the representation within two weeks. Senior advocate Ramji Srinivasan, appearing for the institute, told the bench that there will be no loss of opportunity to candidates who had opted-out from the July exam as per the top court order. “In July itself, we had said those candidates who have opted-out pursuant to your lordships' leave, will have their back up in November 2021 along with the main cycle. It will not be treated as an attempt and they will not lose any benefits. They will get the benefit of the same old syllabus,” Srinivasan told the bench, which also comprised Justices Hrishikesh Roy and C T Ravikumar.

In its June 30 order, the top court had said a candidate shall be entitled to exercise the option of opting-out of the exam if he or she or any family member has suffered COVID-19 in the recent past and the fact is certified by a registered medical practitioner. That will not be considered as an attempt in the examination as such and the candidate will be permitted to appear in the back up examination, to be conducted for the old as well as the new syllabus, subject to conducive situation prevailing at the relevant time, the court had said.

During the hearing on Thursday, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the applicants, referred to the June 30 order about back up examination and said those who had opted-out would essentially lose one attempt. “They (ICAI) should be directed to hold a back up examination instead of saying that you appear in the regular exam cycle,” Bhushan said, adding that from next year the syllabus will be new. “Let me assuage the apprehensions of my friend. There will be no loss of opportunity to people who had opted-out,” Srinivasan said.

On the issue of holding back up exam, he said there were logistical problems in last year and the institute needs about five to six months to prepare for examination. The bench told Srinivasan that these candidates can appear in the November examination but asked whether it was possible to conduct one more examination under the old syllabus. Srinivasan assured the bench that no candidate will lose his or her opportunity. The bench said for the time being, it is not disturbing the examination cycle and the ICAI can take appropriate decision on the representation to be filed by the applicants. “You make representation. The institute is very open to all suggestions,” the bench told Bhushan.

Bhushan said the institute should consider having back-up examination even if they have it after November. The bench observed it will not force them to have back-up examination as the ICAI has given up this idea due to its experience. “We don't wish to continue this petition in view of the stand taken by the institute that all aspects brought to the notice of the institute will be taken into account and appropriate decision which is in the best interest of the candidates will be take provided the same is consistent with the policy and extant rules,” the bench said in its order. The bench permitted the applicants to make representation to the ICAI. In its June 30 order, the apex court had made clear that a candidate need not produce RT-PCR test if medical certificate issued by registered medical practitioners for his family members is produced along with request for opting out of the July examination.

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