ICAI reads out riot act to members, students

KR Srivats New Delhi | Updated on February 15, 2021 Published on February 15, 2021

Cautions them against using social media to tarnish the image of the profession

CA Institute members and students watch out. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has cautioned them against taking to social media to post any content that tarnishes the image of the CA profession or the Institute in the eyes of the public.

According to the Institute, the punishment for any such action could be as harsh as initiating disciplinary proceedings against the member concerned and even cancellation of registration of the student, thereby preventing the student from pursuing a career in chartered accountancy.

This move is seen as the Institute’s response to the recent agitation through the social media by certain sections of students to get the November/December edition of the CA exams postponed.

Redress of grievances

In an advisory, the Institute said that it has come across certain instances where members and students have taken to the social media to express their grievances related to profession/academics without first taking up the issue(s) with the Institute. Some had also written directly to the Corporate Affairs Ministry and other higher forums for redress of grievances, the advisory noted.

The advisory highlighted that some of the posts are “highly objectionable” and have the potential to create social and communal disharmony, threatening peace, tranquility and may disrupt the security of the nation, public order and friendly relations with other nations.

In certain cases, material posted on social media was found to be false and misleading and tarnishing the image of the profession in the eyes of the public and bringing disrepute to the profession, the advisory said.

It highlighted that under the Chartered Accountants Act 1949, a member of the Institute, whether in practice or not, would be “deemed to be guilty of other misconduct”, if he brings disrepute to the profession or the Institute as a result of his action whether or not related to his professional work.

As far as the students are concerned, the ICAI advisory said that any such action will be liable for appropriate action including cancellation of their registration.

Amarjit Chopra, former President of ICAI, told BusinessLine “In recent past, the use of social media by members to air their grievances has been a matter of concern particularly with regard to the language used in such posts.

However, in my view it may be difficult for the Institute to regulate the views in social media as it might be seen to be curtailment of right of freedom of speech.”

Another Past President of ICAI, close to the development, said that the Advisory has been issued by ICAI after looking into all legal aspects including the one on “freedom of expression” under the Constitution. While this ICAI move maybe challenged in courts, the point is that there are “reasonable restrictions” under the freedom of expression and if somebody is crossing that.. then this will not be accepted, sources added. “One should not use alphabets CA in the social media posts to air their grievances as it could be looked as views of the CA fraternity”, the Past President said.

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Published on February 15, 2021
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