Ministry of Corporate Affairs
Government of India
REF: REQUEST TO PASS DIRECTIONS u/s 30 C of the Chartered Accountants Act for adopting tough measures for the safe and smooth conduct of the CA Examinations going to be held from 21st November. Urgent attention is requested as there are only ten days to implement the suggestions to be made by you.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India is an autonomous body tasked with the conduct of the examinations of their profession of Chartered accountancy on pan India basis. The institute is under your ages and regulated by your Ministry for and on behalf of the Central Government which exercises supervision over the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI for proper and orderly growth of the profession concerned. Section 30C of The Chartered Accountants Act, 1949, as amended by the Chartered Accountants (Amendment) Act, 2006 empowers the Central Government to issue directions to the Council wherein Clause (1) of the section prescribed that in the event of non-compliance by the Council of any provisions of this Act, the Central Government may give to the Council such general or special directions as it considers necessary to ensure compliance and the Council shall, in the discharge of its functions under this Act, comply with such directions.
The said directions will have applicability of the Council decisions. As per section 30 of the Act, The council is having the power to make regulations. As per Clause (2) of the section, it prescribed that in particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such regulations may provide for all or any of the following matters:—i.e. (a) the standard and conduct of examinations under this Act;
Hence your ministry is directly concern with the ongoing activities at the council level and quiet competent to pass on the necessary directions to the Council of the Institute on war footing as the matter is related to the five lacks student life and death due to a pandemic Covid-19. As you are aware, the affected people are about to cross one Crore mark in the country. You cannot sit quietly at the helm of affairs happening at the council decisions. Your directions are the need of the hour to deal with the safety measures at the Examination centers as well as at the logistics for the conduct of such examinations.
The Institute has decided to take up their half-yearly exams from November 21st at a hundred of centers across India. The students and their parents, who are the major stakeholders of the institute, have filed their petitions before the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the month of April 20 for deferment of July 20 exams and succeeded in their first attempt for postponement and again filed a petition in the month of October 20 in the Supreme Court, seeking the Court’s direction for its logistics. Now Supreme Court has left the management of safe exams at the shoulders of ICAI, hence, your responsibility as regulating body increases manifold. You are requested to pass on the necessary directions to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India about managing the safest exams ever. You are requested to go through the following and act accordingly to safeguard the precious lives of the students.
1. Approximately 4.50 lacks students will appear for this examination which will last for eighteen days. The duration is quite long and this examination is the first examination to be conducted by any institution in India for such a long duration during this pandemic. Hence such examinations require all your attention and as a remedial measure, your necessary directions for the safe and smooth exams. The Institute is assuring its best but the ground realities are not in tune with the institute assurances.
2. There is a total mess up affairs at the institute level. The students have got the wrong admit cards, the centers choose by the institute are not up the mark and as appearing through the social media accounts, where students at large have shared the centers are bad and it seems that those centers may not be able to hold the exams efficiently. The institute is changing the centers by its own. Many irregularities are surfacing in allotment of examination centers.
3. On a popular request, the Institute has agreed to provide another additional opportunity to hold its exams in Jan /Feb and given an opportunity to opt-out for Jan/ Feb 2021 attempt. But the irony of their declaration is that no date sheet has been provided. No clear mention of holding the exams at all centers and about the declarations of their result so as not to clash it with next May 2021 attempts. The students at large are treating it as a game plan to confuse the opt-out for students by providing the two options of Jan/Feb as well as May 21 simultaneously. The major stake holder’s i.e. the students have lost their faith and trust in their mother institutions due to mishandling of issuing SOPs admit cards and unclear clarifications. The delay in issuing numerous guidelines has only added the unrest for lacks of students and their parents.
4. The undersigned has repeatedly requested ICAI to issue a white paper on the preparations, strength of students at centers and 100% matching with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. But it’s a matter of great shock that the institute has failed to take note of the urgency of various matters which are directly related to the students.
5. The conditions of the examination centers are a poor one. There were MHA guidelines/ Supreme Court directions to increase the exam centers and this institute has divided the same examination center into 1st, 2nd & 3rd center to fulfill the norms but practically its gross violations of the numerous directions issued by authorities time to time.
6. The centers are falling in containment zones. Alleged Call recording with Shri K M Ray (Eastern Region Coordinator) for the issues with the allotted centers has appeared in the public domain. The ICAI official is not ready to accept that the centers are in containment zones, though the same is in containment zones. The ICAI official was indirectly stating that the government site http://covidhotspots.in is misguiding and no area is containment zone now. Further, the President has asserted that containment zone students can write the papers but MHA guidelines don’t allow this. Students have been allotted centers in containment zones which are nothing but a forced opt-out plan. This is nothing but playing with the lives of the students.
7. The students are mature one and the Supreme Court of India has also put their trust towards the students mentioning it as professional exams. Honorable Supreme Court has not trusted the ICAI rather put on weight towards the students to deal with the situation. Every student is not seeking a postponement because he or she is not prepared. They are the future of their families so they are having the limitless responsibilities towards their families too. It’s not about safety for themselves but for the most precious thing I.e. their family’s safety. This time it’s a question of the life of all the students and their families too. This is to be mention that not everyone blessed with big houses, strong financial background and even not with good health. There’s also a possibility that parents and grandparents of many students have some diseases like diabetes, sugar, asthma and these people are more exposed to Covid-19 than a normal human being. Can anyone ignore the number of daily cases in the Capital itself? By the time, the exams will be open; there will be a surge of 10000 cases a day at Delhi alone. That is the writing on the wall but surprisingly, no concrete plans have been released by ICAI which is having their Head Quarters at the capital itself.
8. The students have prepared for the exam well and ready to write the papers but their faith in the ICAI management shaking and they are of the opinion that their attempt may be risky for their lives. There is no commitment from the ICAI to regain the student’s faith on account of regular lapses at their part. Only ten days left to start the exams, but at large students are in dilemma that what is the best course to be opting for exams? Their apprehensions are backed by the overall situations of the centers where computer halls, nursery schools, closed buildings have been selected as examination centers. Is it safe to conduct exams in this particular situation with existing infrastructure? Who is going to take a guarantee that because of any lapse at the part of the ICAI, the students will not suffer or this experiment will not spread the Covid-19 to a vast section of the society?
9. The undersigned has mooted a proposal to revise the November 2019 results by reducing passing marks to the tune of 10% and declared those candidates pass. Since November 2019 who have failed are studying hard so that a benefit of study can be granted to them but the same has been rejected without considering the benefits of the scheme. There is no other smart way to resolve the deadlock. Those who have studied well in the last one year but due to uncertain enviourment they can’t even do the revision of their study and it’s quite frustrating at their part. At social media, People are coming up with different news and notifications every day. The same are creating problem and studies are affecting badly. The ICAI should not only consider the arithmetic of passing marks. In fact, ICAI is doing it since its inception to reduce or increase the passing marks to all the students/ selective areas etc. Why can’t their power of revisiting the results be used for the betterment of students in this hour of crisis? Students are thinking to quit CA. The non-responded attitude of ICAI has certainly resulted in an increase of their stress levels, anxiety, trauma and other mental health issues, also severely affecting their performance in these crucial exams, which determine their academic career and affecting their whole future.
10. There is also clear that the Institute requires permissions from the State Government or the local administration where they are going to conduct the examinations. The Institute is going on blindly as per them; they don’t require any specific permission from anyone. Their assumption cannot be justified as, during the currency of the Pandemic, the local administrations are competent to regulate any such activity which in their opinion is required to deal with Pandemic. The powers are unlimited and in case any of the students found with a covid-19 positive report then there are regulations for mandatory hospitalization. How will our inexperienced institute be able to deal with such situations is a million-dollar question directly related to human life?
11. There is also no plan for the students, who may be infected or fallen ill during the exams and will be deprived of their chance to appear for the next papers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Further, keeping in mind the increasing number of covid-19 positive cases in the country, and the possibility of the pandemic reaching its Himalayan peak around the first week of December, due to the congregation of students at the limited number of centers, there is a very high risk of infection of Covid-19. A clear plan to deal with such a situation is not there at ICAI level.
12. Where the examinees stay far away from the examination centers, the lack of transportation facilities like public transport, the limited restarting of railways, and the unavailability of safe food, accommodation and medical facilities near the examination centers, as also the added cost of these, will be a grave burden on parents whose financial condition has been affected due to the pandemic. A suggestion was given to ICAI to make arrangements with the nearby hotels for the accommodations have also not been considered by ICAI. At Nepal, there is only one center in Kathmandu and students have to travel thousands of kilometres to reach their centers. Further, the examinees are also finding it difficult to accommodate with their relatives or friends due to the pandemic.
13. There is another prominent issue regarding articles issues for which the FAQ was also delayed at last was released on 8 September when it had no significance, the issue is not dealt according to MHA guidelines. The employers are looking Covid-19 as an opportunity to harass their articles. There are no clear guidelines to deal with the leaves fall in the lockdown period. At large the principals are not sympathetic to the articles and taking/ threatening all kind of actions against them. The institute has acknowledged that it is between the principal and articles and institute has itself absolve from any responsibility in dealing with such matters. FAQ’S of ICAI override the statutory guidelines. The articles who want to serve with different principals are not being allowed to act. The E sahayataa portal is saying that they have to serve under the same Principal. So does the ICAI FAQ’S can bind them to serve extension under the same Principal? This is simply a dictatorship at their level.
14. You are requested to ensure that Standard Operating Procedure issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development should be adhered to strictly ensuring the safety of students.
15. It is prayed that necessary instructions be issued to the council of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India keeping in view of the right to equality and life as fundamental rights of the students.
Kindly do the needful and oblige.
CA AMRESH VASHISHT
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