ICAI’s Counsel Ramji Srinivasan told the bench consisting of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar that there will be “no loss of opportunity to candidates who had opted-out from the July exam”.
Hearing an application seeking directions to the ICAI to conduct a backup examination for those CA candidates who opted out in July 2021 due to COVID-related difficulties, the apex court asked the applicants to make a representation on this to the institute. Srinivasan assured the court that an appropriate decision will be taken on the representation within two weeks.
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“In July itself, we had said those candidates who opted out pursuant to court’s leave, will have their backup examination in November 2021 along with the main cycle. It will not be treated as an attempt and they will not lose any benefits. They will get the benefit of the same old syllabus,” he said.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the applicants, submitted that as per the June 30 order passed by the Supreme Court, the ICAI was obliged to hold a backup exam for the CA aspirants who opted out of the July cycle exam due to COVID-19-related difficulties.
“However, the ICAI has now said that the opted-out students can attempt the next regular cycle exam which will be held in November this year, this means that the students will lose an attempt which they would have had,” Bhushan contended.
“They (ICAI) should be directed to hold a backup examination instead of saying that you appear in the regular exam cycle,” he said and added that from next year the syllabus will be new.
Srinivasan, however, assured that there will be no loss of opportunity to people who had opted out.
The apex court in its June 30 order had said a candidate shall be entitled to exercise the option of opting out of the exam if he or she or any family member has suffered COVID-19 in the recent past and the fact is certified by a registered medical practitioner.
The ICAI submitted that the decision to hold a backup examination with the regular cycle was taken because last year holding a separate exam had created logistical problems, Srinivasan said.
The Bench said it is not disturbing the examination cycle for the time being and the ICAI can take appropriate decision on the representation to be filed by the applicants. It then asked the applicants to make representation to the ICAI.
“You make a representation. They will take the issue of seniority also into account. Maybe they will give you a better option,” Justice Khanwilkar told Bhushan.