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Offer Opt-Out Option to CA Candidates for 5 July Exam: SC to ICAI

The opt-out facility can be availed if the candidate or candidate's kin have suffered from COVID in the recent past.

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In a major relief to aspiring chartered accountant candidates, the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 30 June, directed the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to provide opt-out option to candidates in the CA exams scheduled from 5 July on account of COVID-related difficulties faced by them or their families.

A bench, comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Aniruddha Bose, told ICAI to not insist on RT-PCR negative reports as long as the candidate gets a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner.

The bench said the opt-out facility can be availed by candidates who suffered from COVID-19 or if their family member suffered from the disease in the recent past.

The bench also added that it must be certified by a medical practitioner that candidate is not fit to prepare for the exam.

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The bench did not agree with ICAI's policy of not providing the opt-out option if the last-minute change of exam centre is within the same city. The bench said the option should be given even if the change of exam centre is within the city.

"Such candidates can appear in backup exam to be held when situation is conducive," added the court.

The top court order came on three petitions connected with CA exams scheduled to begin from July 5.

The top court said candidates who are in containment zones can opt out and this will not be treated as an attempt. Such candidates can appear in the backup exam scheduled in November.

The bench added that if any candidate, while taking the exam, contracts COVID and is unable to appear for the remaining papers, s/he will be allowed to opt out and it will not be treated as an attempt. Such candidates can appear in November for the whole set of exams, the court added.

The ICAI in a note, submitted to the top court, said the opt-out option shall also be extended to candidates (under both old and new syllabus) who have recently suffered from COVID-19 or are yet to recover from the aftereffects of COVID-19 and are unable to appear for the examinations. The candidates must produce valid medical certificates to support their claim.

"In case there are any last-minute changes in the examination centres due to operational or logistical reasons, the candidates would be given an option to opt out of the examination only in case of inter-city change. No opt-out option will be given where the change does not involve change of city," the note added.

ICAI is not in a position to provide transportation facilities/ vaccination of candidates, as prayed for by the petitioner, it further added.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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