January 29, 2021: Supreme Court has directed the central government to clarify at what level the decision to not give extra attempts to COVID-19 affected candidates for UPSC Exam was taken.
On January 28, 2021, Bench Justice headed by Justice Khanwilkar stated his concern regarding lack of clarity as to who rejected the plea of providing the extra attempt for the UPSC Prelims Exam.
The bench expressed its concern by stating, “This affidavit says nothing. At whose level has this decision been taken? It is meant to be a policy decision and a one-time exception. Such a decision should have been taken at the highest level. Your affidavit says nothing about it. Is this the way to file an affidavit?
As per the Supreme Court’s directions, the Center has now given 24 hours to file a better affidavit with the secretary’s signature to the court.
Additionally, the bench has postponed the hearing on the petition for an extra attempt on Friday. As a result, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju is now expected to file a better affidavit within a day or so.
In favor of candidates, the senior advocate has informed the court that applicants were not given a choice to not appear for the exam, as the exam authority failed to take a decision on the extra attempt for COVID-19 frontline working candidate before the exam commencement.
As per the DoPT affidavit of Monday, the affidavit argued that the request for an extra attempt can not be taken into consideration as applicants willingly sat for examination earlier. It further stated that allowing an extra attempt "would also result in seriously prejudicing other candidates in the future”.
Additionally, the decision in the favor of applicants will have a “cascading effect detrimental to the overall functioning and level playing field necessary to be provided in any public examination system,” the Centre stated.
Earlier, on October 4, 2020, 100 candidates who appeared for Civil Services Examination filled a request for an extra chance. As candidates who appeared for the examination were frontline COVID-19 workers, as a result, applicants didn’t get the chance to prepare for the examination.
Referring to the request filed by candidates, the center filed an affidavit stating that an extra attempt can not be given to applicants as even non-final attempt candidates will also seek the same request if it’s approved.
The court further stated that in order to appear for Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2021, applicants are required to be within the eligible age limit.
As per the UPSC Age limit criteria, applicants till the age of 32 years old are eligible to appear for an exam from general category candidates. While the age limit for OBC candidates is 35 years, and 37 years of age for SC/ST candidates.
*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.