In a major relief to aspiring chartered accountant candidates, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to provide "opt-out" option to a candidate in the CA exams scheduled from July 5, on account of covid-related difficulties faced by the candidate or family members.
A bench comprising Justices A.M. 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, saying that candidate is not fit to prepare for the exam.
The bench did not agree with ICAI's policy of not giving "opt-out" option if the last-minute change of exam centre is within the same city. The bench said "opt-out" option should be given even if the change of exam centre is within the city.
"Such candidate 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, and such candidate can appear in the backup exams in November.
The bench added that if any candidate, while taking the exam, contracts Covid, and he/she is unable to appear in remaining papers, then such candidate will be allowed to opt out and it will not be treated as 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 those candidates (whether under the old or new syllabus) who have recently suffered from COVID-19 or yet to recover from the after effects of the COVID-19 and consequently unable to appear in the examinations on production of medical certificate issued by registered medical practitioner that the candidate has recently suffered from COVID-19 and is yet to recover.
"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.