UPSC extra chance: SC asks why not one-time relaxation, if same given earlier?

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Supreme Court
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre why it was not possible to give a one-time relaxation to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) aspirants, when relaxations have been given earlier.

A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said: “It is just a one-time relaxation. If it is done before, why not this time.”

The bench asked how many candidates would come into the fray if one-time concession is made and secondly, since the beginning, how many times the UPSC have given relaxation of this nature.

The bench posed these queries to Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju and sought reply Monday next week.

The top court stressed that it was not asking the Centre to increase the age-limit for the civil services exam, instead exploring the possibility of one-time relaxation, for those candidates who have exhausted all attempts to take the exam.

On Thursday, the top court had pulled up the Centre for filing an affidavit, in response to petitions by civil services aspirants seeking extra chance, which did not disclose the level of the decision-making for its stand.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), in an affidavit, told the apex court that civil services aspirants who have exhausted all their attempts in the exams held in October last year, should not be given an extra attempt.

The top court expressed its dissatisfaction at the affidavit not having any information at which this decision has been taken by the government.

The affidavit 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 Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination-2020.

“Accommodating the present petitioners would create a cascading effect detrimental to the overall functioning and level playing field necessary to be provided in any public examination system.”

The bench told the Centre’s counsel it preferred the affidavit should have been filed by a high-ranking official, and the decision should have been taken at the highest level.

“It is a policy decision and a one-time exemption,” it said, asking the Centre’s counsel to file the affidavit properly.

The Centre had emphasized that the contention by the petitioners, who moved the top court through advocate Anushree Prashit Kapadia, that their preparation was hampered due to the stress caused by the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic, does not hold weight as the UPSC had already given extra time to the candidates by postponing the CS (Preliminary) Examination-2020 from May 31, 2020 to October 4, 2020.

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