The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) Monday informed the Supreme Court that the May cycle of CA examination, scheduled between July 29 and August 16, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The counsel appearing for ICAI told a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar that now the May cycle examination will be merged with the November 2020 cycle of the CA exam.
The apex court was hearing through video-conferencing a plea which had challenged the ‘opt out’ option provided by ICAI alleging that it “arbitrarily” discriminate between the aspirants in May cycle of CA examination. The plea had also sought more exam centres across the country.
The bench, after hearing the submissions advanced by ICAI’s counsel, disposed of the matter. Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, appearing for the petitioner, pointed out to certain aspects related to the CA examinations. The top court told the advocate to make a representation before the ICAI in this regard.
On June 29, the apex court had said that ICAI should be flexible in conducting exams amid the pandemic and take care of concern of candidates. It had suggested that option for change in examination centre should be made available to the aspirants till the last week before the scheduled exams.
It had observed that situation is not static and continuously changing and the ICAI should be flexible on the issues of ‘opt out’ and change of examination centre. The ICAI’s counsel had earlier told the court that out of around 3,46,000 registered aspirants, nearly 53,000 have taken the ‘opt out’ option.
The plea filed in the apex court had 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’. The ICAI’s counsel had told the court that it has ensured that no prejudice is caused to anybody by notification issued regarding the examination.
The petitioner, president of ‘India Wide Parents Association’, had claimed in the plea that ICAI has stated that students, who have already submitted online examination application for May examination cycle, shall be allowed to ‘opt out’ and carry forward their candidature to November 2020 examination cycle.
“It is respectfully submitted that Respondent No.1 ICAI has notified that for the students who choose opt-out option, this attempt (May 2020) will be treated as cancelled/not counted. Thus, such student will be deprived of the May, 2020, attempt, as compared to other group of students, who choose opt-in option,” the plea had said, while seeking quashing of the announcement made in this regard on June 15.
“The said ‘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 amidst ongoing COVID-19 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,” it had said.
It had said that free transportation and accommodation should be provided to the aspirants near their respective examination centres. It had further sought directions to the authorities to conduct mandatory free COVID-19 test of all aspirants and teachers and staffs deployed at the examination centres.