The number of cases reported to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) against Chartered Accountants (CAs) has gone up, but the pace of action taken in such cases has been tardy. This has been revealed by data procured via RTI. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sounded his concerns over complaints against CAs facilitating movement of black money in the aftermath of demonetisation.

According to the data, ICAI received total 246 cases in 2010, 233 in 2011, 266 in 2012, 427 in 2013, 443 in 2014, 480 in 2015, 460 in 2016 and 474 in 2017. The RTI had been filed by petitioner Mohit Gupta, a lawyer.

The disciplinary directorate of the ICAI categorises cases into two sub-heads, namely, “complaint” and “information”. Cases that are reported to the ICAI by agencies, companies, shareholders, government regulators etc., are treated as “complaints”, while those cases that come to the ICAI’s notice via media or any other public platform are treated as “information”.

There has been a huge jump in the number of cases of “information” received by ICAI in 2017, though the number of complaints has seen a slight fall from last year. While there were 167 cases registered as complaints in 2017, there were 307 cases registered as information, the highest number of information cases registered since 2010. The highest number of complaints made to ICAI was 480 in 2015, while the same year, the number of information cases was 155. 

In 2010, there were 207 cases of complaints and 39 information cases. In 2011, there were 196 cases of complaints and 37 of information. In 2012, there were 239 cases of complaints and 27 of information. In 2013, there were 327 cases of complaints and 100 of information. In 2014, there were 356 cases of complaints and 87 of information. In 2016, there were 320 complaints and 140 information cases.

Reflecting on the number of cases, Ranjan Goel, a former member of ICAI, said: “The ethical training of our young students has not been able to keep pace with the rapid digitisation, globalisation and the increase in the number of corporates and CAs. They need to be more rigorously trained in ethics to become a reliable human resource.”

However, even as the number of cases with ICAI has been gradually increasing, the pace of action taken in such cases has been tardy. According to the RTI data, all cases between 2010-12 have been dealt with by the Board of Directors (BoD) at the prima facie stage. However, 2013 onwards, the number of pending cases has been on the rise. There are 14 cases from 2013 that are still pending, 199 cases of 2014, 346 cases of 2015, 402 cases of 2016 and 464 cases of 2017.

Amarjit Chopra, former president of ICAI, said, “People report these cases to the ICAI because they have faith in it. Look at any other recognised professional association of doctors or lawyers; the number of cases where they have taken action against their own people will be far less than ICAI. In the past, ICAI has barred at least 3-4 CAs and removed them from the board.”

Industry experts have highlighted the need to become more tech savvy to ensure transparency and efficiency to regulate CAs across the country. Taking cognisance of the concerns highlighted by PM Narendra Modi, Goel said, “The ICAI has a lot of room for improvement. However, the general environment of suspicion around CAs is not justified either. What our PM said should be taken in positive light. CAs have a crucial role to play in fixing black money troubles.”

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