NEW DELHI: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) told the Supreme Court Friday that it would file an affidavit on the plea which has challenged its 'opt out' option for CA exams, scheduled between July 29 and August 16, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The apex court was hearing through video-conferencing a plea which has alleged that ICAI had made an important announcement on June 15 by which it "arbitrarily decided to discriminate" between the aspirants by providing an option of 'opt out' in the May cycle CA examination.
The counsel appearing for ICAI told a bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari that the institute has ensured that no prejudice is caused to anybody by notification issued regarding the upcoming examination.
The plea has also sought directions for increasing the number of examination centres for around 4.67 lakh aspirants in the exams.
"Ramji Srinivasan, senior counsel, instructed by Pramod Dayal, appearing for respondent No. 1 (ICAI), seeks the liberty to place certain facts on record by way of an affidavit, which he intends to file before June 29, through e-mail," the bench noted in its order and posted the matter for hearing on June 29.
Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, appearing for the petitioner, told the bench that deadline to submit online declaration to avail the 'opt out' option is June 27.
The petitioner, president of India Wide Parents Association', has claimed in the plea that ICAI has stated that students, who have already submitted online examination application for May examination cycle, shall be allowed to 'opt out' and carry forward their candidature to November 2020 examination cycle.
"It is respectfully submitted that Respondent No.1 ICAI has notified that for the students who choose opt-out option, this attempt (May 2020) will be treated as cancelled/not counted.
Thus, such student will be deprived of the May, 2020, attempt, as compared to other group of students, who choose opt-in option," the plea said, while seeking quashing of the announcement made in this regard on June 15.
"The said 'opt-out' option discriminates between those underprivileged group of CA students/ aspirants, who are living in remote areas of the country or living in the containment zones and thus are slated to lose one precious 'examination attempt' by choosing 'opt-out' option amidst ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as compared to that privileged group of students/ aspirants, who are living in big cities/ green zones and thus they have no problem in appearing in the said examination," it said.
The petition has further sought an increase in the number of examination centres so as to ensure that at least one examination centre is there in every district of India.
It said that around 4.67 lakh aspirants are scheduled to appear in the examinations at about 259 examination centres in India and five centres abroad.
It has said that free transportation and accommodation should be provided to the aspirants near their respective examination centres.
It has further sought directions to the authorities to conduct mandatory free COVID-19 test of all aspirants and teachers and staffs deployed at the examination centres.