A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it, A song’s not a song ’til you sing it, Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay, Love isn’t loving ’til you give it away! So is our ALMA MATER ICAI, We have to take care in selecting the strong council and regional councils to cater our profession of chartered accountancy.
THE VOTING SHALL BE ON 3RD & 4TH DECEMBER 2021
The voting for the elections of the twenty-fifth council and twenty-fourth regional councils will be on 3rd and 4th December 2021 in cities having 1000 (Earlier 2500) or more members and on 4th December 2021 in other cities/towns. The Institute shall notify its programme tentatively in the first week of September and the Election Code of Conduct will be implemented after notification and will remain in force till the declaration of results of elections.
Last month was marked by a number of record webinars called by the elected council members to attract the attention towards them. Generally, the purpose of organizing such webinars on the eve of the declaration of elections was to declare their candidature for the forthcoming elections. Various committees of ICAI take lead in announcing such webinars with the sole purpose to knock the doors for their candidature. One of the Committee has announced a seminar with a Bhajan Sandhaya of National fame. The hosting of such webinars and seminars are regulated through a defined protocol and webinar in the name of national webinar or/and Seminar have to pass through a definite test. The noncompliance with the given norms is clearly in violation of the hosting in an uniform way throughout the country; however, the elected leaders take it as their birth right to announce such webinars which has resulted in crediting hundreds of hours as CPE hours for members at large. This misuse is going on every three years and shall go on as there are no effective guidelines/ ethical standards for the elected representatives to curb such malpractice.
VOTING IS POSSIBLE AT A PLACE OTHER THAN PROFESSIONAL ADDRESS
Recently, MCA notified as on 24th August 2021 the Chartered Accountants (Election to the Council) Amendment Rules, 2021, to allow Members to vote at any polling booth of choice, i.e., anywhere within or outside the concerned regional constituency with prior notice of 14/ 21 days.The institute is yet to notify it along with its rules, forms etc. The said gazetted content of the MCA mentioned that in rule 5 and rule ,after sub rule (2) , for the opening portion, the following shall be substituted, namely: –
Rule 5 – “Subject to other provisions of these rules, a member, whose name is borne on the Register on the 1st day of April of the financial year in which the election to the Council is to take place and is entitled to vote by poll, shall be permitted to cast his vote for the candidates contesting from the regional constituency to which he belongs, at any polling booth of his choice within his Regional Constituency, provided an intimation to vote at a particular booth is received by the Returning Officer at least fourteen days prior to the date of polling:”
Rule 6, after sub-rule (2),“Provided that the Returning Officer may, on an application from a voter eligible to vote by poll seeking permission to cast his vote at a polling booth beyond his regional constituency, received at least three weeks prior to the date of polling, permit him to vote, for the candidates contesting from the regional constituency to which he belongs, at a polling booth, in the city of his choice beyond such regional constituency, if there has been a change in his professional address published in the List of Voters or he is expected to be away from his professional address on the date of polling and all necessary arrangements therefore shall be made by the Returning Officer.” Further in rule 26, for sub-rule (1), the following sub-rule shall be substituted, in reference to above change namely, A candidate for election from a constituency shall be entitled to be present at the polling booths in that constituency including at such polling booths beyond that Constituency, as may be permitted in terms of the proviso to sub-rule (2) of rule 6.
AMENDMENTS 2021 WILL BE BOUGHT HIGHER VOTING
The proposed amendments will certainly add the voting tally. The decision has been initiated by the council backed by the Big 4 who want to control the council at any cost. The present directives of the Big 4 is to work from home till 31st December 2021 and these amendments will affect the voting of all the regions. A number of CA members employees have already been added to their respective choice centres like Gurugram of the choice region from across India. The said members have been told to update their professional addresses at SSP portal within a span of time. Now their lobbying at MCA has given this notification and they are at ease to get the votes of their transferred members from across the country. This will adversely affect the prospects of many candidates in some regions, especially in northern regions where bulk transfers have been recorded. The selectivity of the words raised in a notification raised a needle of suspicion and seems to be accommodating in nature.
THE UNATTENDED REFORMS IN ICAI ELECTIONS
The election process shall be commencing in a few days in full swing. However, some reforms for proper representation of the members spread over to the whole country have not been addressed so far. There is a need to divide the regional constituencies into sub-regional constituencies, consisting of a state or a group of states having an adequate membership. This would have enabled each major state to send its representatives to the council. In the present format, the representation is from big cities. The present representation is primarily a geographical representation rather than a representation of the common member. If some other reforms are implemented at an early date, the quality of our membership and the administration of the Institute can be considerably improved. The reforms envisaged by the council in matters relating to: (a) education (b) training (c) professional development (d) continuing education and (e) discipline, will have to be given top priority. The progress in the implementation of reforms is very slow as no dynamic determinations appear to have been put in to advance the legislative and other processes. Unless these reforms are introduced and administration of the Institute is toned up, the profession will not be able to achieve its esteemed goal.
EACH VOTE IS VALUABLE
In an election of this type, each vote is valuable. Our elections are held on the ‘single transferable’ vote system, under which the voter has to indicate the preference about the candidates by inserting the figures 1, 2, 3, etc. against the names of candidates according to his/her preference. Some members are under the impression that only the ‘first preference’ vote is of value. This impression is not correct. A candidate is required to obtain only a specific number of first preference votes for getting himself elected. If the first preference votes obtained by him are more than the required number, the excess is transferred, at an appropriate value, to the candidates who have secured 2nd and 3rd preferences. Similarly, if the number of first preference votes received by a candidate is much below the required quota, the candidates getting subsequent preferences will get an advantage by way of transfer of such votes at an appropriate value. It is, therefore, essential to note that a voter should not select only one candidate of his choice but should select as many candidates as possible and mark his preferences for such candidates. It may be noted that by giving second or subsequent preferences, the position of the candidate to whom the first preference vote is given will not be jeopardized. This will help the voter to get at least one of the candidates of his choice elected.
STRONG COUNCIL & REGIONAL COUNCILS MUST BE THERE
This will show that we must have a strong council at the center as well as at the regional levels. This is possible only if each and every member of the Institute considers it to be his/her bounden duty to elect the right type of candidates. They should not be carried away by the inability of canvassing by any deserving candidate. It would not be proper to judge the capability of a candidate by the number of visits to the voter’s place or the number of attractive manifestos/circulars sent by him. Members should not be carried away by unethical practices adopted by some candidates who directly or indirectly throw lunch/dinner parties, distribute gifts and adopt some innovative means to secure votes. At present the hosting of webinars was treated like the strength of the candidates. The council members are heading many committees and lectures from the motivational speakers, ex- ministers, Bhajan Sandhya etc are few examples of showing their strength at the expense of the Institute. Candidates from Big 4 and coaching are having their upper hand because of their larger presence in the profession.
However, a member should consider whether the candidate will be able to contribute to the cause of the profession and devote time to the activities of the Institute. In particular, the voter must address to himself/herself whether the candidate to whom the vote is given will be able to make efforts to complete the reforms process and will be able to effectively oppose all attempts to undermine the role of our profession. In the context of the recent developments, of reducing the professional opportunities like running from small company audits, GST audit, Tax Audits limits, RRB audits etc and the silence at the part of elected members should be a serious matter of concern and be pondered upon before going for a vote. It is absolutely essential that we elect candidates who can achieve the goals set out above.
VOTES UNDER SINGLE TRANSFER-ABLE SYSTEM OF VOTING
The procedure for counting the votes and for distribution of the proportionate value of various preferences to different candidates is somewhat complicated. Assuming certain assumptions about the number of candidates contesting an election, candidates to be elected, votes cast, etc. to explain the procedure for counting of votes under a single transferable system of voting, the picture shall emerge as follows.
A. QUOTA: If total candidates are 12 for 6 seats in one particular region. Total votes of the region are 30000 and 14000 have cast their votes. First, a quota shall be ascertained for the winning candidate. The casted votes shall be divided by 7 i.e. 6+1. Hence in simple language 2000 first preference votes shall be the quota for a declaration of a winner. Anyone who shall achieve 2000 marks shall be declared elected.
B. FIRST COUNT: Candidate will be declared elected getting more than the required quota of 2000 votes. If there are 2500 votes over and above 2000, those 500 votes shall be declared Surplus votes. The surplus of votes will be transferred to other candidates. For this purpose, the value of surplus votes will be worked out and distributed to candidates who have been marked for a second preference. If only 2000 out of 2500 voters have exercised their second preference, the value of each surplus vote will work out to ¼ (500/2000). It may be noted that since only 2000 out of 2500 voters have exercised second preference votes, 500 votes out of that packet have gone waste.
C. ELIMINATION PROCESS: After exhausting surpluses with the other candidates, the candidate who has got the lowest number of first preference votes will be eliminated first. The candidates, to whom second preference or subsequent preferences are marked, will get an advantage on the distribution of the value of these votes However the second preferences given to the already declared candidates will have to be ignored. Therefore, the second preferences received by candidates will be added to their packets at full value. So far as third preference votes received by them are concerned, each such vote will have 100% value as they are transferred from packets of elected candidates. The process goes on until the balanced candidates become equivalent to the contesting seats.
D. SOME SURPRISES: It may so happen that a candidate who gets good first preference votes in the first count, may not succeed in the election if he does not get support from other voters in the form of second or subsequent preferences
E. COMPLICATED: The above process is complicated and its working is time-consuming. The in-depth analysis shows its strength but a fair representation can not be assured as members usually mark their votes for the city wise or state wise candidates. That the negativity of this preferential voting. The last election of 2018 is a brilliant example for such a so -called mindset as Jaipur is a populist city in the Central Region as far as members are concerned. The four candidates from the city ran for central council and out of four three joined the council with flying colors. This is simply a number game which lacks fair representation across the region. The states like Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand & Bihar are the most affected states because of the lower number of members. All the four states have the equal members to a City Jaipur alone.
EACH VOTER WILL HAVE TO ENSURE
(i) Exercise his/her voting right on the date of the polling.
(ii) Exercise all preferences in favor of as many candidates of his/her choice.
(iii) Elect strong and deserving candidates, so that a strong and effective Central/Regional Council could be elevated at the highest level for the next three years.