ICAI Exam Centre Woes: Fear and confusion before November exams

ICAI Exam Centre Woes: Fear and confusion before November exams
The CA exam is scheduled to be held between November 21 and December 14, 2020 (Picture Source: Shutterstock) Radhika | Nov 6, 2020 - 11:08 a.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Just ahead of the Chartered Accountants (CA) exam 2020, students across several centres have been thrown into confusion regarding the exam centres allotted to them by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, or ICAI. Soon after the ICAI released the admit card on November 1, several students raised concerns about being assigned ICAI exam centres in COVID-19 containment zones. These complaints have come from candidates in Maharashtra and Kerala.

The exam conducting guidelines issued by the ministry of home affairs prohibits examinations in containment zones. However, there are instances where the status of a containment zone has been contradictory.

“I had checked the location of my exam centre and as per the Kerala Government’s COVID-19 Jagratha website, the exam centre is in the red zone,” a CA candidate from Kerala told Careers360 requesting anonymity. “When I emailed my concerns to the helpdesk, I received a reply saying that the exam centre has reiterated that it is not a containment zone.” The ICAI, on Tuesday, urged students to report concerns related to exam centres falling within containment zones to regional coordinators.

The candidate also mentioned that a friend, who has also been allotted the same exam centre, has decided not to appear for the upcoming exam.

The CA exam is scheduled to be held between November 21 and December 14 and will be conducted in a single shift in a span of 18 days. In October, a group of students led by the teacher of a CA coaching centre, moved the Supreme Court over this issue.

CA exam and SOP

The Supreme Court on Wednesday had asked the ICAI to officially notify the steps taken by it to address the concerns raised by candidates. The court has dismissed a writ petition which sought a Standard Operating Procedure, or SOP, for the upcoming CA exams.

On Wednesday, the ICAI issued an official statement addressing the concerns raised by the candidates. The institute stated that all the exam centres have been verified and “none of them were declared as covid-care facilities.” The official notice further said that it is “undesirable” to provide an isolation room for a symptomatic candidate at the exam centres.

“I am an asymptomatic COVID-19 patient and I will not be able to write the exam this year for no fault of mine,” said Rishabh Sharma, another CA aspirant from Rajasthan. “Like other national level exams, the authorities should have made arrangements for an isolation room,” he added.

CA exam centre or not?

Conflicting responses from administrators of exam centres just added to the confusion. One student, suspecting that his Pune centre, the private Crescent High School and Junior College, was within a containment zone emailed the school authorities to check. He received an email from them saying the school had not consented to be an exam centre in the upcoming exam.

The school administration, when contacted by Careers360, reiterated that no exam was scheduled to be held there but also put the reporter in touch with officials at the education trust which, apparently, is responsible for organising such exams at the school. “The school premises have been booked for the CA exam but the school staff is not aware of the details as none of them are involved in exam conducting exercise,” said a trust official, off the record. There has been a “miscommunication”, they conceded, which has caused confusion. While all private schools in India are run by charities - trusts, societies or Section 8 companies - it is not clear what the relationship between the school and the trust is and the official did not clarify.

CA exam court case

ICAI had cancelled the May attempt of CA exam due to the coronavirus pandemic and merged it with the November attempt. The petition had highlighted that the number of candidates appearing for the CA exam will be significantly higher due to this merger. With no alternative left, several students may also decide not to write the exam in November, said a teacher at a CA coaching centre.

“After the admit card was issued, I received many emails from students stating they have been allotted exam centres in containment zones. The exam authorities have failed to address the core issues and now many will be forced to opt-out of the November exam,” said Amit Jain, a teacher at a CA coaching centre. Jain was also the lead petitioner among those who moved the Supreme Court in October.

As a response to a detailed questionnaire sent by Careers360, Atul Kumar Gupta, president, ICAI sent the official statement issued on Wednesday. No further clarifications were received.

According to the institute, the exam will be conducted in 600 exam centres spread across 200 cities along with “standby buffer centres” to accommodate candidates in “unforeseen situations”. The institute also stressed that all centres are at recognized schools, colleges and institutions.

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