As per TOI News Reports, Congress has accused the Government of interfering in the affairs of ICAI (an autonomous institution), by bringing in amendments to a law on cost and chartered accountants and said that the move will infringe on the independence of the apex body.
Initiating the discussion on The Chartered Accountants, the Cost and Works Accountants and the Company Secretaries (Amendment) Bill, 2021, Congress MP from Tamil Nadu MK Vishnu Prasad has said that while the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is a statutory and autonomous body, it is still under the control of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. He also said that the ministry does not provide funding to the institute.
“The government keeps talking about the independence of ICAI, where is the independence? The number of ICAI council members should exceed the number of government nominees so that a balance is met,” he said.
In the amendments, the government has proposed that the number of government nominees in the disciplinary committee of the ICAI be increased to three from the present two.
He further said that ten years ago there was no government interference in the functioning of ICAI, then the law was amended to have two government nominees. The ICAI disciplinary committee handles complaints and has three ICAI council members who are chartered accountants. He further asked the ministry to go back to the drawing board and bring a comprehensive bill on the issue. He said that the Congress “strongly objected” to the bill.
BJP MP Subhash Chanda Baheria said that it was wrong to imply that the ICAI will forgo its independence if the amendments are incorporated. “The bill does not affect the autonomy of the institute. The three government nominees in the committee are also chosen from a panel recommended by the ICAI council members,” he said.
Source: TOI News dt. 29/03/2022
Chartered Accountants Bill: Amendment an attempt to tinker with ICAI autonomy, says Opposition
Further, as per Indian Express News Reports, Members of the Opposition parties accused the government of interfering with the functioning of autonomous bodies and taking control of independent institutions. The accusations were made in the Lok Sabha during the debate on a Bill to amend the Chartered Accountants Act that gives the government greater control over the disciplinary committee of the Indian Chartered Accountants Institute (ICAI).
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has said that “It is unclear how the conflict of interest between disciplinary and administrative functions will be addressed if the council continues to recommend who could be on the committee. The three councils already have committees for coordinating among themselves. It is unclear why there is a need to set up another coordination committee. The proposal for Secretary, MCA, heading it will impinge upon the independence of the institutes. There is a gap between the cup and the lip.”
DMK leader A Raja questioned the intention of the government in bringing such a Bill. “Some of the provisions of the Bill deserve to be appreciated but some create apprehensions that the government has some agenda. For Bar Council, the chairman is a lawyer. For Medical Council, chairman is a doctor, but for ICAI committee, chairman will be a non-CA? Not being judge of one’s own case is applicable to individuals, not for institutions. In case of institutions, domain knowledge is important,” he said, asking for the Bill to be sent to a Select Committee.
TMC’s Saugata Roy, who was part of the Standing Committee that deliberated on the Bill, said, “The Standing Committee had mentioned some things on the autonomy, which the Bill has not followed. The bureaucrats of the MCA have increased their stranglehold on the three professions. You have thrown the baby with the bathwater in the name of regulations. The disciplinary committee has more non-CAs than CAs.”
NCP’s Supriya Sule also suggested the government had some “hidden agenda”.
BJP’s Jhansi MP Anurag Sharma sought to allay the fears. “The autonomy of the institutes has not been tinkered with. A disciplinary committee is proposed because the institute has been able to take action only in a few cases of misconduct. There are more than 3.5 lakh CAs in India but none of our best practices are recognised internationally. Best practices of western countries have been studied by the ministry before bringing this Bill,” he said. Taking potshots at the Congress, he said, “During the UPA rule, there was a buddy system, where everyone of the same ilk protected their interests. If an independent body is being created for disciplinary action, what is the problem.”
Source: Indian Express News Reports dt. 30/03/2022