SC instructs authorities to reconsider representation of candidates who could not attend UPSC Mains exams due to COVID-19

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New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday opposed a plea in the Supreme Court that sought an extra attempt for the candidates who could not appear in the Civil Services Mains exam owing to the scare of Coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions imposed due to the same. Meanwhile, the apex court directed the authorities concerned to reconsider the representation of the candidates. 

“The permissible number of attempts is also six with relaxations for certain categories of candidates. Thus, the existing rules provide for fair opportunities to the aspirants even if one attempt is lost due to some exigencies,” added the Centre.

The Centre argued that it may lead to similar demands for other examinations conducted all over the country. It said that the existing age criteria for the Civil Services exam is 21 to 32 years with relaxations for certain categories of candidates.

A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar was hearing the matter where it directed authorities concerned to reconsider the representation of the students who have been deprived of an attempt at the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam due to COVID -19. 

The petition was filed by three UPSC aspirants through advocate Shashank Singh. The petitioner has urged to issue appropriate direction to UPSC to extend the benefit of additional or extra attempts and to make some arrangement for the petitioner to appear in the rest of the papers which the petitioners could not give before the publication of the result of Civil Service Mains Examination 2021.

The petitioners said that they are UPSC aspirants who have cleared the UPSC-2021 Prelims Examination and were entitled to appear in the UPSC Mains Examination which was scheduled during January 7-16, 2022.

The petitioners claimed that they could not appear in the UPSC Mains Examination after becoming COVID-19 positive and also owing to the restrictions imposed under the strict quarantine guidelines of the Government. Also, there was the absence of any kind of policy of UPSC which could provide arrangements for such petitioners who were COVID-19 positive during the span of mains examination or before it.

The UPSC had said if the Commission makes a provision for re-examination, then it will have cascading effects on the schedules of other ongoing examinations as well as others.

The UPSC had also submitted that accommodating such requests will lead to a chaotic situation where no examination can be completed on schedule. In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the UPSC had opposed the plea seeking an extra attempt, saying “there’s no merit.”

The Centre and UPSC’s reply came on a petition filed by the UPSC aspirants seeking extra attempts.

Countering the UPSC submission, the petitioners submitted that in the year 2014, the UPSC extended the additional attempts to those candidates who were aggrieved by the “sudden” change by the UPSC in the pattern and syllabus for the Civil Services Mains Examination, 2013.

The petitioners said that they are entitled to a compensatory attempt for their missed last attempt due to COVID-19. 

(With inputs from ANI)

first published:March 31, 2022, 6:28 p.m.

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