The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) in a plea seeking multiplicity of centres for partaking CA examinations to be held between July 29 & August 16 as well as a stay on the proposed "opt-out" scheme amid the ongoing pandemic situation.
The petition avers that the the notification issued by the ICAI on June 15 violates the fundamental rights of 4.67 students who are slated to take the examinations and places them in a precarious position and that the "opt-out" option is a highly discriminatory and arbitrary move.
A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar & Dinesh Maheshwari have listed the case for further consideration on June 29.
Senior Advocate Ramji Srinivasan appeared for ICAI and stated that the petition has been moved with underlying assumptions that are false. He added that, rest assured, the notification is sans any prejudice and that the ICAI will make sure that there is no discrimination against any student.
The Court also took note of the urgency involved in the matter given that the deadline to exercise the "op-out" option expires tomorrow.
The Court, however stated: "If we decide rights in your favour, we can issue directions"
The ICAI announced that it will conduct the May 2020 cycle CA examination between the aforementioned dates this year and has now come out with a "highly discriminatory" and "arbitrary" option which deprives students students who of the May 2020 attempt, the petition reads.
Filed by the President of India Wide Parents Association, the plea states that said "Opt-Out" option discriminates against students on account of the fact that some students who are living in remote areas of the country or are currently in containment zones are bound to choose the "opt-out" option and are thus slated to lose one "one precious examination attempt" of taking the said examination.
In order to ensure that there is at least one Examination Centre in every district of India so that maximum students can take the exams, the plea prays for increasing the number of Examination Centres. as there are only 259 centres in India and 5 Centres overseas, whereas there are 739 districts in India.
"....it is apparent from the above that the Respondent No.1 ICAI is only conducting the aforesaid Examinations in about 30% districts in India. Meaning thereby that the students/ aspirants living in other 70% districts of India, would be required to travel from their homes for long distances, to other districts, in order to appear in the aforesaid Examinations, which will put their lives in immense threat of deadly pandemic of COVID-19" - Excerpt of Plea
This, the plea states would ensure that that the risk of contracting infection is minimised as students would not have to travel long distances to partake the examinations.
Additionally, the petitioner prays for free transportation and free accommodation for those students who are not in close proximity to their respective Examination Centres in order to protect them from "unnecessary harassment" and for "e-Admit Cards to be issued to the captioned students, as E-passes for free movement of such students in containment/ red zones during examinations".
Moreover, the petitioner is praying for stand-by Examination centre for those centres which are "likely to go into containment zones";
"formulation and implementation of specific MHA guidelines for free medical treatment of those students who may get infected with COVID19 during the examination"
"free COVID-19 Tests of all the students/ aspirants and also of the teachers and staff deployed at the Examination Centres"
"granting fresh option to choose Examination Centre to each such aspirant/ student, pursuant to increase in the number of said Examination Centres, without prejudice to the Centre already opted by him/her in lieu of the Important Announcements dated 15.06.2020/20.06.2020".
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