Diminishing Reputation Of Chartered Accountants In India – OpEd


The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India have laid down code of conduct for it’s members, that are described in the Chartered Accountant Act 1949 and the Chartered Accountants (Procedure of investigation of Professional and Other Misconduct and Conduct of cases) Rules 2007. Essence of the code of conduct is the stress on adherence to the dictates of the profession honestly in letter and spirit.

Those who successfully pass out the Chartered Accountants examination become the member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and are expected to strictly adhere to the conduct stipulated in the above Act and Rules.

Visible fall in standards

Unfortunately, there appear to be significant fall in the standards of Chartered accountants of India, which is evident from the frequent published reports of Chartered Accountants conniving with the tax evaders, black money holders and even criminals to enable them to evade taxes and accumulate black money.

It appears that section of Chartered Accountants think that their loyalty to the client is the primary focus of the profession and not to the law of the land.It is unfortunate that such Chartered Accountants think that helping the client to reduce the amount of tax payment by circumventing the law or enabling the client to evade the tax by misinterpreting the law and making false entry in the account books is the be all and end all of their profession.

While several instances can be readily pointed out to highlight the falling standards of the Chartered Accountants, the misdeed of Price Water House in helping Satyam Computers to evade taxes is a glaring example.

Of course, the conduct of all Chartered Accountants are not questionable.

But, it is widely suspected that a notable section of them do not adhere to the code of ethics in letter and spirit laid down by the Institute of Chartered accountants of India. It appears that the day is not far off when the residents and offices of some Chartered Accountants will also be raided by the income tax department , as it is now happening in the case of black money holders and corrupt persons.

Watch dogs of other professions

Today, it is seen that the standards of several professions like lawyers, doctors and even professors apart from judges have fallen visibly low, as black sheep are increasingly found amongst them. It is known that several doctors accept only cash payment towards their professional fees and evade taxes. Several lawyers who speak eloquently about the supremacy of law in many forums are known to insist on cash payment to reduce their tax payment. . Several educational institutions are now perceived to be dens of corruption. There are judges who have been caught for misdemeanors.

Amongst the various professionals, the Chartered Accountants are supposed to be watch dogs of economic and tax transparency and they are supposed to oversee the fair conduct of other professions as far as their fair accounting practices and tax computations are concerned. If the chartered accountants would strictly and honestly adopt the code of ethics and conduct expected of them, the other professionals would find it hard to evade taxes, as all tax evaders avail the services of Chartered Accountants for compilation of accounts and calculation of tax amount.

It is said that behind every tax evader, there is a chartered accountant.

Institute should see the writing on the wall

When Chartered Accountants fail to live up to the expectations ,the basic structure and objectives of tax regime get uprooted.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India thought it fit to issue warning to the Chartered Accountants against criticizing government’s demonetisation policy ( which warning , it withdrew later due to protest from some chartered accountants),But,it has not occurred to the institute to express concern about the steadily diminishing reputation of chartered accountants’ profession in India.

One only hopes that the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India would see the writing on the wall and would not further delay taking some measures to put down firmly the chartered accountants who are dishonest and fail to adhere to the code of ethics laid down by the institute in letter and spirit. So far, the Institute is largely conspicuous by it’s silence in this matter.

Some chartered accountants protested to the Institute about it’s warning that the chartered accountants should not criticize the demonetization policy. However, they have not cared to urge the Institute to ensure that the chartered accountants adhere to the letter and spirit of the ethics of the profession.

Once reputation is lost, it is so difficult to build it again. This is so in the case of individuals as well as any profession.

Let not the reputation be lost

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India would be doing a grave mistake and would fail in it’s responsibility towards the country, if it would continue to refrain from condemning and disciplining the erring chartered accountants in the manner that it should.

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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