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SC Upholds its June 30, 2021, order directing ICAI, ‘opt out’ CA Aspirants will not lose an attempt

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New Delhi, Sept 9 (ILNS) The Supreme Court today said that the ICAI had already assured that, ‘opt out’ candidates will not lose an attempt and all the benefits available to ‘opt out’ candidates will be provided, as directed by us (Supreme Court) on June 30, 2021,

The three-judge bench of Justice A.M Khanwilkar, Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice C.T RaviKumar disposed of the miscellaneous application filed by Chartered Accountant (CA) Aspirants seeking a Back-up Exam, in lieu of opting out of the examination held in July and said, that when ICAI has already given assurance that, ‘opt out’ candidates will not lose an attempt and all the benefits available to ‘opt out’ candidates will be provided.

The Apex Court had earlier also directed, in case of last-minute change of examination centre,the candidates should be allowed ‘opt out’, further clarifying, ‘opt out’ should not be treated as an attempt

Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing on behalf of the petitioners submitted, that ICAI by Notification dated July 1, 2021, have permitted the ‘opt out’ candidates to appear in next regular exam in November, as regular exams of CA are held in May and November each year. He further submitted, as a result of the aforementioned notification, the candidates who could not take the exam in July, they will effectively loose an attempt as ICAI is changing the syllabus for the next year.

Senior Advocate Ramji Srinivasan appearing for ICAI stated, there will be no loss of opportunity to candidates who had opted out, with regards to the change in syllabus, he assured that, all the benefits available to ‘opt out’ candidates will remain the same.

Senior Advocate Srinivasan, in reference to a separate exam for ‘opt out’ candidates stated, it takes about 6 months to prepare for an exam and logistically it would be very difficult.

Justice A M Khanwilkar said, Is it possible for you to conduct two exams in May, with new and old syllabus?”

Senior Advocate Srinivasan, replied by stating, he will take instruction from his client on the same. He further added, ICAI was facing logistical issues with regards to arranging classrooms, examinees and Pandemic which is uncertain, can hit at any time. Therefore, we will stick to our usual cycle of May and November and we will give an opportunity the candidates who had opted out, with old syllabus.

Justice A.M Khanwilkar: “At the time being, we are not disturbing your cycle, all we are suggesting is, on the next cycle along with the examination, conduct a separate examination with the old syllabus.”

Senior Advocate Srinivasan, replied by stating, “we will do it”.

Advocate Bhushan submitted, that last year ICAI had conducted a Back-up examination.

Justice A.M Khanwilkar: “Senior Advocate Srinivasan, pointed it out and stated, there were logistical issues. Mr. Bhushan, if you are getting another opportunity, it serves your purpose.”

Advocate Bhushan, replied by stating, “yes, it will solve my purpose, except one. Every person who passes the CA examination, is treated as a graduate of a particular year. Now what will happen is, as a result of denial of exam this year, they will be treated as graduates of next year.”

Justice A.M Khanwilkar: “Mr. Bhushan make a representation, the institute is open to all suggestions, they will take a decision and come back to us. They will take the issue of seniority into account. Maybe, they will give you a better option.”

On June 30, 2021 the Supreme Court of India had directed the Institute of Charted Accountants of India (ICAI) to provide for an option to ‘opt out’, if the candidate is suffering difficulties related to Covid-19, subject to certification by a Registered Medical Practitioner, the court had also clarified, candidate need not produce RT- PCR report if medical certificate issued by the registered Medical Practitioner for himself/herself or his/her family member is presented along with the request for opting- out.

In regards, to ‘opt out’ candidates the Apex Court had further directed, in case of last-minute change of examination centre,the candidates should be allowed ‘opt out’, further clarifying, ‘opt out’ should not be treated as an attempt./ILNS/SR/KR/SNG

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