Our Bureau

New Delhi, Dec 6

THREE fresh bills to amend the legislation governing Chartered Accountants, Cost and Works Accountants, and Company Secretaries were introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. The Minister for State (Independent Charge), Mr Prem Chand Gupta, introduced the bills based on the recommendations and discussions of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance. Consequently, the three original bills introduced in 2003 were withdrawn.

The bills provide for setting up institutionalised disciplinary mechanism, appellate authorities and quality review boards in the three professional entities Institute of Chartered Accountants, Cost Accountants and Company Secretaries. They also provide for enhanced autonomy for the bodies to fix various fees within prescribed broad limits, for transparency in financial affairs and enabling members to form multi-disciplinary firms and offer multi-professional services.

The Government had introduced the bills to amend the Acts in the Rajya Sabha in 2003. The bills were then referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance. In July this year, the bills were referred to a Group of Ministers (GoM), which then discussed the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Recently, the Union Cabinet gave its nod for the bills. Some of the GoM's major decisions included amendments to the proposal relating to the government's power to issue directions to the central council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and direct its dissolution.

According to another suggestion, the Central Government could direct the council only in the event of non-compliance by the ICAI council with the provisions of the Chartered Accountants Act. In case of persistent default in complying with government directions, dissolution can be ordered.

On the provisions of special audit, the GoM had recommended that if it was brought to the council's notice that its accounts do not represent a true and fair view of its finances, then the council may itself order a special audit. However, if such information has been sent to the council by the Central Government, the council would have to furnish a report on the action taken by it.

As regards the proposed name change for the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India (ICWAI), the GoM had recommended status quo.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 7, 2005)
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