ICAI tells SC it will hold exams with 'Opt-Out' scheme

Last Updated 28 June 2020, 13:19 IST

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India has told the Supreme Court that it was duty bound to provide opportunity to those who wished to appear for examinations, rescheduled between July 29 and August 16, while giving an option of 'Opt-Out' to those who had some fears and anxiety due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Out of 3.46 Iakh candidates, who had applied for appearing in May 2020 cycle of the examinations, only 57,092 candidates have availed the option of Opt-Out, meaning that about 2.89 lakh candidates wanted to appear in the examinations, it pointed out.

"The Institute is mindful of the well-being of the students and their good health is of paramount importance to it. Therefore, any candidate, who at any time feels unable to appear for the exam for reasons attributable to Covid-19, may opt out of the examinations and shall be accommodated in the next examination cycle in November, 2020 without any extra fees and any other disadvantage," Rakesh Sehgal, acting secretary said.

The response of the ICAI came to a PIL filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava on behalf of Anubha Shrivastava Sahai, who wanted setting up of more exam centres and stay on 'Opt-Out scheme' and taking up of more measures in view of Covid-19 pandemic. The top court is scheduled to take up the matter on Monday.

The ICAI maintained that the petitioner's contention that Institute was holding exams only in 30 per cent of the centres was of no relevance, as such number and location are decided by the Examination Committee, keeping in mind the number of candidates. For example, a big city like Delhi or Mumbai or Kolkata is likely to have more examination centres than a smaller city like Bhopal or Mysuru or Shimla.

The May 2020 examinations were earlier scheduled to be held from May 2, 2020 in about 500 centres in 207 cities in India and five overseas centres.

Unfortunately, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown throughout the country since March 25, it was postponed to be held between June 19 and July 4, it said. However, due to extension of lockdown and safety and well-being of the candidates, the examinations have now been rescheduled between July 29 and August 16.

After almost 80 per cent candidates expressed the desire to appear in the examination in their representations and thousands of those who were undergoing articled clerkship wished to join the profession, the Institute decided in larger interest to go ahead with the examinations, albeit, with all possible safety precautions as per government guidelines. "The Institute does not want to be a hurdle between an aspirant and her or his dreams," it said.

However, as some expressed reservations due to the prevailing Covid-I9 situation, and in order to mitigate their anxiety and apprehensions, an 'Opt-Out' option was made available to chose till June 30 as the limited window to enable it to hold the examinations in safe and seamless way, it pointed out.

The Institute also maintainted that it was not attempting to discriminate amongst students.

It further pointed out recently on June 17, the Supreme Court allowed the Karnataka government to go ahead with SSLC examinations as the students who would not be able to take the examination have also been protected by a future opportunity.

Even in Uttarakhand, where the cases of Covid-l9 are on a rise, the State Education department safely completed process of conducting of Class 10 and 12 examinations, stopped midway in March due to lockdown, between June 20 and 23, it added.

(Published 28 June 2020, 13:19 IST)

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