The SC observed that the ICAI should consider allowing the students to opt-out of the exams until the last day (Anubha Shrivasta Sahai v. ICAI).
Facts of the case
The CA exams for the cycle of May 2020 were scheduled between July 29th and August 16th. ICAI issued a notification about the “opt-out” option. The petitioner requested the Court to quash the notifications of the opt-out option. The petition also seeks directions from the SC to notify more exam centres. Further, it seeks direction for free accommodation for students living far away.
Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava represented the petitioner. He stated that the number of students scheduled to appear figure stands at around 3.46 lakh, as opposed to over 4.5 lakh. He contended that there are students who live in containment zones, and areas where the lockdown has been extended.
Furthermore, there are a limited number of exam centres. ICAI said that there are only 232 centres. Many students in Bihar have opted for the 15-day long exam in Kolkata which is under lockdown.
He highlighted three main issues faced by the students:-
1.) An increase in the number of exam centres,
2.) Candidates in places under extended lockdown and
3.) How the CBSE model can be implemented in this scenario.
Senior Advocate Ramji Srinivasan represented ICAI. He informed that the apprehensions of the petitioner are unfounded about the opt-out option. The ICAI is bound by the CA Act.
ICAI said that there are around 500 centres across the country, sanitized and prepared with hygienic conditions for all the aspirants.
He further stated that a change in the centre is an option kept open for the students and the deadline for changing the same is a thing he would have to seek instructions. ICAI informed the Court that if any exam centre falls in a containment zone, then the student will get accommodated in the closest exam centre or in the November exam cycle.
As per the latest information, around 52,000 students have chosen to opt-out of the exam, and the deadline could be extended by one more week. The Institute has sought time from the Court to issue a new notification regarding the exam.
The Bench comprises of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and Sanjiv Khanna. They informed that the Institute needs to be flexible and not rigid towards the exam pattern.
The Court stated that ICAI has to make a provision, i.e., if the student passes the exam in November, it should be noted that they have passed the exam in July.
However, the Court suggested that the deadline needs to be extended until the last day. Any person not appearing must be treated as an opt-out candidate and should be adjusted in the November cycle.
It stated that the ICAI ought to keep in mind the entire protocol as well as the guidelines issued by the MHA.
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