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SC asks Icai to keep opt-out option open till last CA exam date

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (Icai) to consider permitting the ‘opt out’ option for the CA examination till the last date of the exam.

Currently, CA students who want to opt out for the exam—scheduled be held from 29 July to 16 August—must do so by 30 June. Those who opt out can appear for the same examination in November.

The bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar granted Icai time to file fresh guidelines/notifications. The case will be next heard on 2 July.

India wide parents’ association had filed the petition challenging the “opt-out” scheme and sought directions for more centres to be set up for conducting the CA examination.

According to advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, who represented the petitioner, Icai had said the May 2020 cycle CA examination will begin on 29 July, and on 15 June, it notified students that they can avail the opt-out option till 30 June.

The petitioners contended that this was highly discriminatory and arbitrary as the situation with respect to covid-19 pandemic was changing by the day, and Icai should be more flexible to allow students to choose the opt-out option till last day.

The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, observed that the pandemic situation is not static but quite dynamic; hence, the option to opt out should be kept open till the last exam.

Senior advocate Ramji Srinivasan, representing ICAI, argued that a limited window for opting out was necessary to ascertain the number of students appearing for the exams, as things would be arranged accordingly. He added that about 53,000 students have already chosen the opt-out scheme.

The bench said that due to covid-19, containment zones are constantly shifting, so if someone does not appear for the CA exam, it should be treated as opt-out, and could be assumed that he didn’t appear due to the covid situation.

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