The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India or ICAI can hold in-person exams from Monday (July 5), the Supreme Court said today. The regulatory body has also been told that students, who have been affected by Covid, should get an “opt-out” option.
The top court told the regulatory body to “nominate the medical authority” that can certify candidates – who’ve been impacted by coronavirus – to make it easier for them to drop out.
By tomorrow, the ICAI will have to give an elaborate note of assurance with details on protocol that shall be maintained in the examination halls.
All staff at the examination centres will have to give Covid-negative reports (RT-PCR tests), safety and security of the students must be ensured and examination halls can’t be used for marriage or such purposes.
If the examination centre is changed at the eleventh hour, it can be a valid reason for not appearing for the exams, the top court stressed. “We are not stopping the exam. We are going to consider how opting out can be granted. In the midst of exams, out of five papers, if a student appears for three papers, he should be appearing in two papers only next time.”
Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, heading a three-judge bench with Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Aniruddha Bose, shared his experience during the hearing: “Two of us (judges) had Covid, and we have a personal experience. The effect was there for three weeks, and I was unable to concentrate.”
Justice Dinesh Maheshwari said, “It appears while taking this decision, you only concentrated on RT-PCR tests. Have you taken inputs on the impact of Covid? People are suffering even after months of infection. Have you taken this into account?”
To this, the ICAI replied that it hadn’t. Lawyer Ramji Srinivasan, representing the Charted Accountants’ body, said it will appoint the authority on certifying students.
When he said the court had allowed the exam last year too, the court said, “The debate is giving one opportunity to them (aspirants), and it has to be certified by some authority which you have to identify.”
On Monday, the ICAI had told the court that it is against postponing or cancelling the exams. With a drop in India’s daily Covid cases, it’s the right time to conduct the exams for those aspiring to be Charted Accountants, it said.
Drawing a comparison between the CBSE exams and the exams for the CA aspirants, the regulatory body said that these “exams are professional and should not be compared with those conducted by the CBSE. These cannot be deferred or cancelled in the interest of aspiring Chartered Accountants.” The CBSE exams for Class 12 were cancelled earlier this month as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the “health and safety of our students is of utmost importance and there would be no compromise on this aspect”.
The top court on Monday was hearing petitions to increase the examination centres and extra attempt for students appearing in intermediate and final exams.
India has seen a drop in the daily surge in Covid cases in the last few weeks after a tough battle against the second wave that caught the world’s attention. Experts, however, have sounded caution about a third wave if protocol is not followed.