CA students unable to appear for exams should be considered opt-out cases, suggests SC

New Delhi : In a big relief for students pursuing chartered accountancy, the Supreme Court on Monday suggested the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to consider the students who are unable to appear for the exam to be considered an "opt-out case" even if they don't choose the same.

A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar and also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna was hearing a petition filed by Anubha Shrivastava Sahai, the president of India Wide Parents Association, seeking a stay on the "opt-out" scheme.

The ICAI had given its candidates, who had already submitted an online examination application for May 2020 examination cycle, the option to opt-out from May 2020 examinations and carry forward their candidature to the next examination.

The apex court also asked the ICAI to issue fresh necessary guidelines incorporating the suggestions put forward by the bench and posted the matter for further hearing to July 2.

"The ICAI counsel may take instructions and file the modified draft notification setting out the changes", the bench said.

Supreme Court lawyer, Alakh Alok Srivastava, had appeared for the petitioner before the court and was arguing through video conferencing in the matter.

The petition sought more examination centres, a stay on the "opt-out" scheme, and better precautions from coronavirus for about 3.46 lakh CA students, who are scheduled to appear in the May cycle exams, to be conducted between July 29 and August 16.

"The situation is continuously changing. Even if a candidate has not chosen opt-out option if they suddenly come under a containment zone what will you do? You should treat candidates who don't appear as opt-out cases, the apex court observed.

Lawyer, Ramji Shrinivasan, for ICAI, said that if a candidate sends us an email saying he is unable to take the paper due to COVID-19 situation, we will not question it.

"It's a group of 4-4 exams. They can choose to appear at a later date of they are COVID affected," he further submitted to the court.

"Don't be rigid. Be flexible. Show some concern for these students. You are a professional body. You must take care of your candidates," the apex court observed and asked the ICAI.

The ICAI had recently filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court in the matter. 

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