New Delhi, July 31, 2017

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has defended its disciplinary record, arguing that decision making has been speeded up and it was looking at ways to strengthen its efforts - including pitching for powers to act against audit firms -to clamp down on errant professionals.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked the institute to step up its efforts to clean up the profession and aid the government in its fight against wrong doers, especially those with illicit wealth.

Sources in the institute told TOI that it had submitted a road map to expedite cases to a panel constituted by the ministry of corporate affairs. However, following the PM's statement on July 1, an internal group has been reconstituted to ensure if further steps were required. "We are making an all-out effort to act against those who are not following the rules and laws and there is no slip-up at our end. We are much more proactive in acting against wrong doers than other professional bodies," said an ICAI office-bearer in what was probably a reference to the Medical Council and the Bar Council.

Over the last three years, ICAI's disciplinary committee and the board of discipline has found 402 chartered accountants guilty. While ICAI's track record has faced criticism amid suggestions that the process was slow due to the self-regulatory nature, sources said that there are government nominees in the entire process and a case is closed only after it has been reviewed after prima facie investigations. "There is enormous oversight and by and large cases are decided unanimously," a source said.

Asked about the concerns expressed by government agencies over even their cases not been decided expeditiously, the sources said that in several cases the agencies only passed on information and did not lodge a complaint. As a result, these were treated as information. "In several cases, the agencies do not participate once the officer-concerned is transferred. In addition, they seek repeated adjournments, which delay the process," a source said.

[The Times of India]