The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre as to why one-time relaxation cannot be given to civil services aspirants who could not appear for their last attempt in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic by giving them an extra chance.
Solicitor General S.V. Raju was asked by the bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari to notify it by February 1 on how many candidates will appear if relaxation is granted once in how many times since the UPSC was formed.
“It is just one time relaxation and if it has been done before then why not this time” the bench told Raju
The Supreme Court asked the Centre not to issue any notification until February 1 for the 2021 UPSC examination and clarified that it did not request an increase in the age limit of candidates, but that a one-time concession be provided to those who have exhausted all their attempts.
The top court questioned the centre of filing an affidavit on Thursday without specifying at whose level the decision was not taken for not having more opportunity for UPSC civil aspirants who could not appear due to the covid-19 pandemic in the last attempt in 2020. The Supreme Court stated that the affidavit filed before it was not clear who is living in this decision was taken and noted that a regular affidavit was filed before it by an Under Secretary level officer.
On 25 January, the Centre told the apex court that allowing those who could not appear in the last chance in 2020 due to covid-19 to make an additional attempt in the UPSC civil service exam would establish a cascading effect detrimental to overall functioning and level playing field required for the public examination system.
The Centre had claimed in an affidavit filed in the apex court that extending preferential treatment to similarly positioned aspirants at the examination will lead to an additional attempt at age relaxation for some candidates.
“It is therefore respectfully submitted that accommodating the present petitioners would create a cascading effect detrimental to overall functioning and level playing field necessary to be provided in any public examination system” said the affidavit filed by an Under Secretary in the department of personnel and training.
Centre said “It may be noted that providing an extra attempt could further have a cascading effect by creating a ground for challenge on part of those candidates who have already appeared for the CS (Preliminary) Examination-2020.”
It said a total of 4, 86,952 candidates appeared in the October 4 last year examination the UPSC had “left no stone unturned in their Pursuit to accommodate for the means and interest of the candidate”.
“It is further submitted that the condition by petitioner had that the preparations was hampered due to stress caused by the prevailing covid-19 pandemic is not hold weight as UPSC had already given extra time to candidates by postponing preliminary examination 2020 from May 31 2020 to October 4 2020.”
The affidavit stated that other regular non-final attempt candidates who undertook the examination without any murmur or dissatisfaction would be disadvantageously put in the future examination if the relief sought by the petitioner was granted because it would encourage a large number of candidates with experience to participate again, rendering the future examination strictly competitive.
On 30 September last year, the Supreme Court refused to postpone the UPSC Civil Service Preliminary Examination held on 4 October due to Covid-19 pandemic.
However, with the subsequent extension of the upper age limit, it instructed the central government and the UPSC to consider granting an additional opportunity to candidates who would otherwise have their last attempt in 2020.