NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to consider giving students an ‘opt out’ option till the last date of CA exams, scheduled to be held during 29 July-16 August.
The bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar granted ICAI time to file fresh guidelines/notification regarding the exams.
The case will be next heard on 2 July.
A parents' association had filed the petition challenging the 15 June notification which said students can avail the opt-out option till 30 June. The plea also sought more centres for conducting the exam.
The bench suggested that opting-out option should be considered active till the last CA paper. Also, the ICAI can adopt guidelines issued for Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) exams, it said.
On the option for change of centre, the court said, “Till the last week...You need to be flexible, you cannot be rigid."
Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastavan, representing the petitioner, submitted that ICAI had announced in the May circular that chartered accountant examination will commence from 29 July. On 15 June, it notified that students can avail the ‘opt-out’ option till 30 June.
The opt-out option will enable students to appear for exams scheduled to be held in November and the attempt would be treated as cancelled.
The petitioners contended that this was highly discriminatory and arbitrary as the covid-19 situation was changing each day and ICAI should be more flexible to allow students to choose opt out option till last day.
"You have to make a provision then that if a student passes the exam in November, you have to say that it means they have passed the exam in July."
The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, agreed that the pandemic situation is not static, hence the option to opt out should be kept open till the last exam.
Senior advocate Ramji Srinivasan, representing ICAI, argued that a limited window for choosing opt-out option was necessary to ascertain the number of students appearing for the exams, as things would be arranged accordingly. He added that about 53,000 students have already chosen the opt out scheme for this examination.
The three-judge bench suggested that due to covid-19 situation containment zones are constantly shifting, so if someone does not appear for the CA exam, it should be treated as opt-out option, and could be assumed that the student didn’t appear due to thsituation.