A group of 6000 students about to appear in the upcoming Chartered Accountancy (CA) examinations, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to take Suo-moto cognizance of multiple issues including the postponement of examination due to the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic, extension of old course attempt amid other reliefs. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is all set to hold the CA foundation, inter and final exams from July 05, 2021, until July 20, 2021, in offline mode on a pan India basis. The letter comes nearly a week after a plea seeking to highlight similar concerns was filed in the Supreme Court and it will be heard by the top court on Monday (June 28).
The CA candidates in their plea letter wrote, “We students want to request our country’s most popular and students friendly Prime Minister sir to kindly take suo moto cognizance in this matter and allow us postponement for some days so that we students can appear in exams without any fear of chances of losing lives on our near and dear ones.”
“We don’t want any cancellation of exams but vaccination is something you yourself emphasize. CA Students who are going to appear in these exams fall in the age group of 18-23 and it will be injustice with these students as well as their family members also if they are pressurized to appear in these 15 days long physical exams without giving them the opportunity to vaccinate themselves,” they added.
Apart from major concerns of vaccination, the CA candidates also raised certain other concerns in the letter that were raised by the students before the ICAI, but the Institute had allegedly failed to address them. On behalf of the 3,00,000 students who are appearing for the exams, the group of CA students requested PM Modi to provide an unconditional opt-out facility along with an additional alternate attempt for such students. Moreover, they also made a request to extend the last attempt for Old Course students by 1 year and to direct ICAI to provide transportation and accommodation facilities to students whose exam centres have been shifted by ICAI.
The students pointed out all of their requests to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following are the requests:
1. Consider our request to postpone exams by some days so that we 3,00,000 students can get ourselves vaccinated as we believe this number is very small.
2. Direct ICAI to provide an Opt-Out option to an Alternative Attempt to the students who are unable to appear for the exams due to COVID-19 Or COVID-19 Symptoms or just Self Declaration Basis
3. Direct ICAI to extend attempts for Old Course Students for 1 more year (i.e. 2 more attempts).
4. Direct ICAI to take permission from states for the usage of Admit Card as E-pass for travelling.
5. For those students whose centres are altogether shifted to different states provide transportation and accommodation facility.
Here is the complete text of the letter written by CA students tO Prime Minister Narendra Modi:
We, a group of 6000 students, pursuing professional course of Chartered Accountancy, but also, we are ordinary citizens of India and in this capacity, have Fundamental Right to Life which our Constitution has conferred to each and every citizen of India in Article 21.
We, would like to bring this to your kind notice, this is going to be first all India Level exam after the deadly 2nd Wave which is not yet over in southern states and 3 states including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala are on high alert amid Delta Plus Variant. We would also like to submit that over 3 lakh students will be appearing in these exams from all over India and majority of them are not even vaccinated with at least single dose of vaccine.
With reference to your Address to Nation dated 7th June, 2021, you yourself appealed t the nation to get vaccinated and announced wide vaccination programs for 18+ age ground and Niti Aayog’s Chief Dr VK Paul in his various statements also said- “Vaccination is the only key to go back to normal” and to save ourself from the emerging mutants of Delta Variant.
With reference to your statement Dt 2nd June, 2021, while cancelling board exams, “For us students health and safety is of topmost importance”, we humbly want to ask you sir whether we CA Students doesn’t fall in category of “Students” in our own Prime Minister? We want to submit sir we don’t want any cancellation of exams but vaccination is something you yourself emphasizes on. CA Students who are going to appear in these exams fall in age group of 18-23 and it will be injustice with these students as well as their family members also if they are pressurized to appear in these 15 Days long physical exams without giving them opportunity to vaccinate themselves. On Monday, 22nd June, 2021, over 8.27 million doses were administered and it is such a huge number. We students want to request our country’s most popular and students friendly Prime Minister sir to kindly take suo moto cognizance in this matter and allow us postponement for some days so that we students can appear in exams without any fear of chances of losing lives on our near and dear ones.
As you are aware, that the prevailing 2nd wave of COVID-19 virus has made a drastic impact on the lives of Citizens of India and it has impacted each and every one in some or the other way. With over 3 lakh 85 thousand lives lost until now, many of the CA students lost their family members during these past few months.
Apart from major concerns of vaccination, we are writing this letter to you to raise a few concerns which have been raised by the students before the Institute Of Chartered Accountants Of India (Hereinafter referred to as “the institute”) but the Institute has failed to address these concerns in totality. The concerns have been reproduced below in alphabetical manner:
A. No Opt-Out Option to Alternate Attempt has been provided to the students
The Institute conducts its examination in 2 cycles in May and November. The students have approached the ICAI to provide an Opt-Out Option(shifting his candidature and exam fees without getting attempt counted) to Alternate Attempt for the upcoming exams, wherein a student who is not able to appear for the upcoming exams either because he contracts COVID-19 virus or having COVID-19 virus symptoms during the exam period or because any of his family member contracts the COVID-19 virus or COVID-19 virus symptoms or for any other medical emergency in family or for some other reason due to pandemic, then he can Opt-Out for this exam cycle and appear in the next exam before November cycle.
It is pertinent to note that, during this whole pandemic situation since past 1.5 Years, it has been a standard practice of the institute to provide the students with an Opt-Out option but to our utter surprise the institute has Opt-out to next attempt which is ultimately provides no benefit to students.
Further, at the time of May 2020 exam cycle, a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court of India by Advocate Anubha Shrivastava Sahai being W.P.(C) No. 000601/2020 wherein during the course of arguments on 29th June 2020, the court strongly objected for not providing opt out till the last paper and suggested the institute to provide the same till last paper of the examination cycle and when the Advocate appearing for the institute tried to argue against it, the hon’ble court directed the institute to be flexible and not rigid, as it would be very unjustified for the students who are unable to appear for these upcoming exams due to the effects of COVID-19.
Further, majority of the students that will be appearing for these exams belong to the age group of 18-45 and have not been fully vaccinated yet, this puts the students at a high risk of getting sick during the conduct of the exams. Also, if we have a look at the effects of 2nd wave of COVID-19, it has been more drastic than the 1st Wave of COVID-19 especially on the young population of the country, yet the relief of Opt-Out Option that was provided to the students who appeared for the exams during the 1st Wave of COVID-19 has not been extended to the students who will be appearing for the exams during this wave, making the institute very biased and unjust towards the students.
Institute has issued notification on 21st June 2021 regarding opt-out only when students have filed PIL. And Opt-out is only for students himself / herself or his / her grandparents, parents, spouse, children & siblings (residing in the same premises) are infected with Covid – 19, not to other relative of family when India has rich culture of living in Joint Families and they asked mandatory RTPCR Report with condition that it should be on or after 21st June 2021. Institute has not even considered students having post covid-19 symptoms or even that student who got Covid-Positive say on June 20. Thousands of students have requested them till date on twitter but they are just neglecting genuine hardships of students amid this pandemic.
If institute wants mandatory documentary evidence of COVID-19 symptoms, then Institute should also accept doctor’s letter for the same.
Institute is requested to provide Opt-Out of Alternative attempt before November 2021 to Students who themselves or their relative is having COVID-19 or COVID-19 Symptoms on the basis of declaration upto anytime upon conclusion of exams like same provided for November 2020 by notification dated 7th November 2020.
B. No Extension Of Old Course Attempts
The Institute has been currently running two courses simultaneously namely Old Course and New Course, both the courses have a vast difference if we compare the syllabus. Further, this examination attempt of July 2021 is the last attempt for the students of Old Course to clear their exams and if they are unable to appear for the exams or unable to pass in this pandemic, they will be forcefully shifted to the new course and will have to study the syllabus all over again.
Sir, you will understand that Many students are not able to focus on studies due to Covid/Covid symptoms to family members/Financial Problems due to lockdown during the last 1.5 years. They are studying the same syllabus for many years, will be difficult to shift to a new syllabus. and all the efforts and years they have put in to study the old course syllabus will be wasted and it would be very harsh and rigid to do so, especially when the whole nation is suffering from a pandemic.
Please provide 1 year more for all old course students irrespective of having covid symptoms or not (i.e. 2 more attempts apart from July 2021).
C. CHANGE OF ZONES AND CENTERS BEFORE AND DURING EXAMS
They has already changed zones of students for July 2021 exams by notification dated 21st June 2021, institute has said that “Due to paucity of accommodation in certain Zones opted by the candidates in the cities of Ahmedabad, Aurangabad, Chennai and Pune some of the candidates have been allotted examinations centres in the zone other than the zone opted by them in the said cities. In view of this, it is not possible to accede to the request of the candidates for transfer to an examination center in a particular zone of the city opted by them. Similarly, students who had opted Dimapur (Kohima) City have been shifted to Guwahati City.”
Institute is requested to please arrange Accommodations / Transportation Facilities for students whose zones are changed by notification dated 21st June 2021 because these students come from middle class background and they cannot afford to stay for 16 days in hotel etc. and ground reality is PGs are not working at normal capacity.
If not possible to arrange the above facilities please postpone exams and if they are that firm for taking exams please arrange centers in same zones, so that students should not face accommodations and transportation problems.
We also want to bring to your kind consideration that the Institute last year, in November 2020 examinations which were scheduled from November 21, 2020 they have changed a lot of centers just a day before examinations by notification dated 20th November 2020 & notification dated 29th November 2020.
D. Permission from states for the usage of Admit Card as E-pass for Travelling
In states of West Bengal, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra etc. lockdowns are still not lifted by the respective state governments, then, how the students are going to travel to their centres which are allotted at far distances from their accommodation as we all are aware public transportation is not yet available for the general public.
Institute is requested to please take permission from all required states to use Admit card as E-pass for travelling during exam days, if the institute already got permissions please issue notification for the same. In many states still, lockdown is there, so it is difficult for students to travel to examination centres.
E. No Additional attempt for the students who are unable to appear
Sir, the institute has a standard practice to conduct the exams twice a year, one in the month of May and the other in the month of November. It is pertinent to note that, against its standard practice of conducting the exams twice a year and in the interest of the students at large, the institute while conducting the November 2020 exams not only provided the students with an Opt-Out option which was exercisable until the last exam of the cycle but it also provided the students with an additional attempt in January 21 i.e. the students suffering from the effects of COVID-19 were provided with an option to Opt-Out and appear for exams in January 21, but no such additional attempt has been provided to the students of July 2021 attempt which is unfair when we compare it to the benefits that were extended to the students that appeared for the exam in November 2020.
As you are aware, sir, recently while deciding the case of cancellation of CBSE exams, during the course of arguments, when CBSE wanted to conduct the exams for its students, the Hon’ble Supreme Court asked for a proper justification from CBSE to depart from its decision to cancel the exams during the previous year since the conditions have worsened now as compared to the last year. Applying the same principle in this case it is most humbly requested that an additional attempt should also be provided to the CA students of July 2021 as it was provided to the CA students who appeared for the exams in November 2020 attempt.
At last we just like say that we wholly and firmly believe in your leadership and your aptitude towards the youth which are the future of the country. It is our humble and sincere request to please take suo-moto cognizance of the issues raised above on an urgent & priority basis since not much time is left for the examination and we students are facing immense mental trauma.
We request you to consider the above matter and pass appropriate directions.