PIL to declare CPT course of ICAI as illegal quashed by Madras High Court

By | August 5, 2015

PIL to declare CPT course of ICAI as illegal quashed

Chartered Accountants Act, 2006: Public Interest Litigation filed by former Head of Southern Region of ICAI praying for issuance of writ of certiorarified mandamus to quash proceedings of ICAI relating to grant of approval for registration of CPT on the ground that it was ultra vires of the Chartered Accountants (Amendment) Act 2006 was quashed by Madras High Court.

Facts:

(a)         The petitioner, former head of Southern Region of ICAI, prayed for issuance of writ of certiorarified mandamus to quash proceedings of ICAI relating to grant of approval for registration of CPT on the ground of colourable exercise of powers in enacting such regulations lack of competence for regulation making power on the subject matter malafide ultra vires of the Chartered Accountants (Amendment) Act 2006 void ab-initio and in transgression of Rule of Law thus infringing the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 14 in respect of the students joining Chartered Accountancy Course at the entry level and consequently, direct the ICAI to stop levy and collection of fee in the name of Registration of non-existing CPT course.

(b)         The Petitioner also filed other writ petitions as Public Interest Litigation for varied prayers, all of which are directed against ICAI. The focus was on the CPT conducted by the ICAI alleging that crores of money had been collected as course CPT fee which is disproportionately high, when compared to the other Common Entrance Test fees collected by the various other institutions and that the Chartered Accountants Act, 2006 and the Chartered Accountants Regulations 1988 do not provide for such imparting education. Therefore, it was contended by the petitioner that what was being done by the Institute was wholly illegal.

(c)         The issue that arose in the instant case was whether the petitioner would be justified in maintaining the Writ Petitions as Public Interest Writ Petitions?

The High Court held as under:

(1)         Before going into the merits of the contentions raised, it would be first necessary to examine as to whether the petitioner would be justified in maintaining these Writ Petitions as Public Interest Litigation (‘PIL’).

(2)         The petitioner held various positions and joined the ICAI as the Assistant Secretary during October 1990 in the Head Office at New Delhi and served in various Departments of ICAI. The petitioner also served as the head of the Southern Region of the ICAI at Chennai for five years from 2002 to 2007. Thus, the petitioner was part of the organisation functioned under its Rules and Regulations and was bound by the directions and the decisions taken/issued by the ICAI.

(3)         The CPT against which the petitioner raises ”hue and cry”, was introduced during September 2006. During the relevant time, the petitioner was holding the position as the head of the Southern Region of the ICAI. Thus, it is clear that the petitioner accepted the regulations as such, functioned under ICAI in various capacities including the matters concerning examinations.

(4)         Curiously enough after he came out of the ICAI he has resorted to filing these PILs. We are not inclined to accept the contention of the petitioner that these Writ petitions are being filed to seek justice for the Chartered Accountancy students.

(5)         The Common Proficiency Test (CPT) has been in vogue since 2006 and there appears to have been no complaint from any students till date nor has any such complaint been placed before us. ICAI revealed that as on date approximately 7,94,132 students have been registered on its rolls and they are in different stages of the Chartered Accountancy curriculum. Therefore, we are of the firm view that these Writ Petitions at the instance of the present petitioner cannot be treated as “Public Interest Litigations”. Furthermore, the oral education imparted by the Institute is neither compulsory nor mandatory, but optional.

(6)         The petitioner while in office as head of the Southern Region of the ICAI functioned with the system and took decisions which according to him are now faulty. We are not convinced to entertain these Writ Petitions as “Public Interest Litigations” at the instance of the Writ Petitioner.

(7)         For all the above reasons, we are not inclined to entertain these Writ Petitions designed as “Public Interest Litigations” at the instance of the petitioner and the same are dismissed.

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