Even as CA aspirants cry hoarse over mismanagement by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), the self-regulatory body for accountancy professionals that also conducts the CA exams has reiterated that the exams will no longer be postponed again and will be held as per schedule from 21 November 2020.
People from ICAI say that exams have already been postponed once in May and if they are postponed again, a section of the students will also make complaints about a year going waste. One person from the institute said that many of these students are being provoked by coaching centres and people with vested interest who will benefit from postponement of exams.
ICAI has said that it is committed to conduct the examinations in a safe and secure environment by observing all necessary guidelines issued by the government like maintaining social distance between candidates, sanitisation of the premises, checking the temperature of the candidates.
According to ICAI, necessary arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of November 2020 examinations including strict adherence to the precautions / measures related to COVID-19 which include thermal scanning, hands' sanitisation, wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing at all times, following Government guidelines for the examinees/centre functionaries during the conduct of Chartered Accountant Examination.
However, students are not fully satisfied. They have taken to social media to complain about last minute changes in centres and have raised concerns about the safety measures and precautions being taken at examination centres. In some cases, two exams centres have been merged into one, in some cases students have complained that their new centres are farther away from the earlier ones.
Pritam Mahure, a Pune-based CA, says that the fear among the students is not unjustified. He says unlike other exams such as NEET, in CA, students have to appear in multiple tests depending on the level, thus increasing chances of infection.
Exams of ICAI are in groups of 4 papers, and one has to appear in all 4 papers in one sitting.
On the confusion over changed centres, ICAI has said that before finalising any examination centre, due report/feedbacks have been taken from local representatives/branch of the institute. The ICAI has so far changed more than 20 centres.
The institute has made changes in centres based on request received through e-mails till October 13. In case of extreme medical conditions, they considered centre change request after October 13 as well.
ICAI has further claimed that it has verified from concerned examination centres that they do not fall in any containment zones. It has also said that none of the examination centres were declared COVID-care facilities.
Many students have alleged that the opt-out option is only for selective students (COVID-affected or those from containment zones), thus blaming the institute of providing unequal opportunities (some students are trending #ICAI_Denies_Equality on Twitter).
On this the ICAI has said that the opt-out option is being provided to students 1) who are currently COVID-19 positive or having symptoms of COVID-19 at any time till the conclusion of exams; 2) whose family members with whom the students are staying are COVID-19 positive or become COVID-19 positive at any time till the conclusion of exams and 3) whose area of residence is declared as containment zone by the central government/state government/local authorities at any time till the conclusion of exams.
It says that there is no question of unequal treatment to students.
Students opting for opt-out option can carry forward their candidature to another examination cycle to be conducted in the second half of January 2021/ first half of February 2021. In this case, the examination fees and exemption, if any, of the particular student will automatically be shifted and carried forward to next examination and this attempt (November 2020) will not be counted. The student will not be required to apply afresh or pay any fees for the next examination cycle.
Announcement for the next exam cycle with detailed schedule will be issued in second half of December 2020.
However, those who decide to opt-out of the exam in the current cycle will have to appear for all exams in the next cycle and not just those papers which he/she failed to appear in this cycle.