An unequivocal message to all CA aspirants that ‘dummy articleships’ shall no longer remain the clandestine truth (or rather the convenient escape route for CA students). As per articleship norms, every articled assistant is required to register under a chartered accountant/accountancy firm and complete the stipulated hours of training.
-Kriti Budhiraja & Sourovi De.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has, in a monumental announcement, decided to clearly earmark the working hours of articled assistants, thus jeopardising their chances of pursuing graduation and articleship simultaneously.
According to the ICAI decision, aspiring chartered accountants undergoing articleship (a.k.a. articled assistants/clerks in the professional jargon) have to begin a day at their firm not after 11 am or end before 5 pm, with stipulated weekly working duration of 35 hours (excluding lunch break).
In addition, the recent announcement also spells out the office hours of the Principal (mentors/trainers under who articled assistants train) as not starting before 9 am or ending after 7 pm. Further intricacies of this decision read that all articled assistants registered on or after 1 April â€™08 and pursuing a parallel course will have to seek specific permission from ICAI by filling up form 112, within one month of joining the â€˜otherâ€™ course.
However, the catch lies in the fact that form #112 requires the applicant to mention his/her college timings and must be counter-signed by the head of the institution. In fact, those registered for articleship before the aforementioned date also havenâ€™t been spared the brunt of this decision, for they too have to submit the form, albeit within six months from the date of announcement (30 September 2008).
Therefore, what the ICAI has succeeded in achieving through this judgment is to send out an unequivocal message to all CA aspirants that â€˜dummy articleshipsâ€™ shall no longer remain the clandestine truth (or rather the convenient escape route for CA students).
As per articleship norms, every articled assistant is required to register under a chartered ccountant/accountancy firm and complete the stipulated hours of training, in lieu of which they receive a monthly stipend cheque. But the reality is that most students do not intern in their firms, return back the stipend received to the firm in cash and are awarded false articleship certificates by their firms; the reason being obvious- the impracticality of juggling too many balls at a time- graduation, CA coaching classes and articleship.
Says articled assistant Sanjhi Agarwal, a third-year B.Com student of SRCC, â€œSince Iâ€™m passing out this year, the new rule does not affect me. But, if I had to choose between graduation and articleship, Iâ€™d prefer continuing with college since thatâ€™s a safer option.â€? Indeed, the CA course is tough, considering the large number of students who enrol and the miniscule percentage who actually pass (a mere 3-5%). However, even amidst the student fraternity, voices are divided. Says Ankita Agrawal, another articleship student, â€œICAI has every right to implement the new guidelines, considering how important articleship, per se, is. At least itâ€™ll put an end to dummy articleships.
Choosing between articleship and a side-course is clearly a personal trade-off.â€? Students are using different criteria for sorting out their dilemma of choices. Says Mrs. Kalra, a chartered accountant, â€œPursuing a B.Com over articleship makes sense only if oneâ€™s college is serious about academics and staying put adds value to oneâ€™s time and effort. That should be the topmost parameter while deciding which path to take.â€?
However, an unreported and silent glee on the new ICAI rule seems to be coming from a different quarter altogether- those totally unaffected by the ruling. Says a second year Economics student of a reputed college, â€œB.Com students would earlier demand higher pay packets during campus placements chiefly by virtue of having completed articleship, while we all knew that their certificates were dummy ones. Thanks to this decision, that is now a thing of the past.â€?
Clearly, one manâ€™s poison is another manâ€™s medicine.