As CA Students’ Protest Against ICAI Takes Political Colour, Here’s What The Issue Is

As Chartered Accountancy Students’ Protest Against ICAI Takes Political Colour, Here’s What The Issue Is

by Swarajya Staff - Sep 26, 2019 11:26 AM +05:30 IST
As Chartered Accountancy Students’ Protest Against ICAI Takes Political Colour, Here’s What The Issue IsCA students protesting against ICAI (Pic via Twitter)

In the past few days Chartered Accountancy students have been protesting on the streets and in front of Institute of Chartered Accountancy of India (ICAI) offices alleging errors in evaluating papers of the May exam.

Thousands of students in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Jaipur have been campaigning to make their point heard.

The protest has now taken a political colour with senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi stepping into the matter and seeking that the students’ demands be fulfilled. He has also demanded that ICAI usher in the required reforms and re-evaluate the exam papers.

With the matter now showing no signs of abating, here’s a quick look at the student grievances and the response by ICAI.

What Do The Protesting Students Claim

The student protests took shape from mid September with the ICAI candidates who appeared for the May exam claiming gross disparity in evaluation and marking system.

The issue began when ICAI released the answer key to the examination and students after obtaining their marksheets via RTI claimed to have found disparities.

The students allege that their examination paper was not evaluated properly and some correct answers were not awarded the required marks.

Students have also alleged that there have been counting mistakes in the evaluation process, no awarding of step marking and error in checking MCQs.

What Are They Demanding

The students have thus demanded a total re-evaluation of the exam answer sheets, central evaluation (some answer sheets are sent to personal addresses of examiners) and penalising examiners for wrong checking.

They have also sought that they be provided copies of the MCQ booklet with correct answers (currently they are just provided the descriptive answer booklet) and permission to fill the OMR sheet using a pen.

There is a central hurdle to these reforms which is - Regulation 39(4) of the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949. Currently this act only allows a review of answer sheets to determine whether they have been checked properly.

Thus students are demanding that it be amended to include a clause for re-evaluation.

ICAI’s Defence

After the protests began intensifying, ICAI issued a press release on 21 September in which announced various reforms for the November 2018 and May 2019 examinations.

In the 21 September announcement ICAI assured that it will digitally evaluate all the answer sheets for the foundation and intermediate level exams held in November 2018 and May 2019.

As per ICAI, this digital evaluation will substitute physical handling of answer sheets, avoid marks variation, eliminate totalling errors and introduce performance reviews of examiners.

It also claims that central evaluation is being carried out for various papers since November 2018.

While addressing claims of MCQ disparity ICAI stated that it has decided to introduce OMR based evaluation of MCQs which will be processed by machines to eliminate disparity. This will be introduced from the November 2019 exams.

It will also enforce step-marking wherein if the student gets any answer wrong, step marks would be provided during re-verification (if not done during initial evaluation).

ICAI added that its examiners would henceforth be tested in the subject of their expertise every 3 years.

Protesters Say Not Enough

The protesting students have dubbed these reforms vague and non-transparent. They have claimed that ICAI’s system is unfair and have been joined by various CA faculties in support.

Seeing the mounting issue, ICAI issued another notice on 24 September acknowledging the students’ main demand of amending the Regulation 39(4). ICAI has claimed that it will follow the due process in considering this demand and urged the students to call off their protest.

The representatives who met ICAI authorities though have refused to budge and vowed to continue their agitation till the demand for full re-evaluation is met.

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