The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea for the postponement of CA intermediate and final exams —slated to be held between May 2-17 —in view of the ongoing seven phased general elections.

A three member Bench headed by Chief Justice of India, D Y Chandrachud and comprising justices, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra held that accepting the submission of petitioners would be prejudicial to the interests of the 4.36 lakh students who are already enrolled for the exams. “Scheduling of examinations essentially pertains to the policy domain”, it added.

The SC Bench noted there are 591 examination centres and these are spread across not only the cities but other parts of the country too. “At this stage where 4.36 lakh candidates have been enrolled for the examination, grant of any relief would cause grave prejudice to them”, Chandrachud said.

The SC Bench noted that the CA examination dates don’t directly clash with any of the scheduled polling dates. 

The petitioner had submitted that the CA examination dates of May 8th and 14th are a day after the scheduled polling dates of May 7th and 13th and this could inconvenience students from the interior regions in reaching the examination centres on the next day after exercising their franchise.

The SC Bench, however, felt that altering the examination date would disrupt the extensive arrangements already in place for the conduct of the examination. 

It noted that the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI)  has taken care to ensure that no examination has been scheduled either on the day of polling or a day prior to that.

Senior Advocate Madhavi Divan, for the petitioners, submitted that it would be difficult for students from interior regions of the country to reach the examination centres on the next day after exercising their franchise.

The SC Bench also rejected petitioners’ submission to provide an opt out option for students, noting that such a move would favour students who take all papers in a single attempt.

Chandrachud, also noted that the special dispensation given during Covid19 cannot be extended now, as the arrangements made during the time of pandemic stands on a completely different footing and the country then was faced with a public health crisis of unprecedented proportions. 

The CA Institute had recently proceeded and notified its revised exam dates (announced on March 19) for the intermediate course examination and final examination despite the pending Supreme Court hearing slated for April 29.

An ICAI notification—gazetted on April 25 —showed that the intermediate course exams will be held on May 3, 5 & 9 (Group I) and May 11, 15 and 17 (Group II). The final exams are scheduled for May 2, 4 and 8 (Group I). For Group II, the revised dates are May 10, 14 and 16. These dates are the same as the revised ones of the March 19 announcement.

The Delhi High Court had on April 8, dismissed a petition filed by 16 CA Students demanding exam postponement. 

Several CA Students have been actively hosting social media campaigns highlighting the challenges faced by them due to the scheduling conflict between CA exams and the General Elections of 2024.

The Election Commission announced the seven phased 18th Lok Sabha elections which commenced on April 19 and will continue till June 1.  

In March, this year, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) had made adjustments to the CA Inter and Final exam schedule for May, 2024, due to the impending Lok Sabha elections. However, despite these changes, aspiring CAs had knocked the Delhi High Court to get the dates postponed.