The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking an extra attempt at the Civil Service Exam Prelims 2021 for those civil services aspirants who had exhausted all their attempts in October 2020.
The judgment was rendered by a three-judge Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi.
The petitioners in the present case had approached the Supreme Court contending that they failed to appear for the UPSC CSE Prelims 2020 due to the disruptions caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and thus, sought an extra attempt for the UPSC Civil Services Prelims 2021.
The government told the Supreme Court that such candidates who appeared for CSE-2020 as their last permissible attempt will be allowed one more extra-attempt specifically limited to CSE-2021 provide they are not otherwise age-barred from appearing in CSE-2021.
“Relaxation, only to the extent of providing one extra attempt for Civil Service Examination (CSE), specifically limited to CSE-2021, may be granted to only those candidates who appeared for CSE-2020 as their last permissible attempt and are otherwise not age-barred from appearing in CSE-2021,” the note filed by Central government said.
This relaxation for the candidates and to the extent as prescribed above, shall be a one-time relaxation only and shall apply only for appearing in CSE- 2021 and shall not be treated as a precedent, it added.
No relaxation shall be granted for CSE-2021 to those candidates who have not exhausted their permissible number of attempts or to those candidates who are otherwise age-barred from appearing in CSE-2021 as per the prescribed age limits of different categories, the note made it clear.
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) limits the number of attempts for a candidate to appear in the UPSC Civil Services examination.
It is currently 6 attempts for general category candidates with an upper age limit of 32 years. OBC candidates have nine attempts till 35 years of age while SC/ST candidates till 37 years of age.
Senior Advocates Shyam Divan, CU Singh and PS Narasimha, appearing for the Petitioners, had submitted that not granting the relaxation in the age-bar would be arbitrary and unreasonable.
PS Narasimha submitted that the age bar has affected vulnerable people the most.
“Covid has drastically changed their position. The IAS aspirations will be totally done away with. They will now be completely excluded,” said Narasimha.
Senior Adv Chander Uday Singh for one of the intervenors submitted that when relaxation was given in 2011 for one time it was given in 2015 and age bar was also included in the same.
ASG SV Raju objected to the demand for extending the extra attempt proposal to the age barred candidates too by stating that “litigation is not for the candidates sitting on the fence.”
The hardships due to COVID19 affected all candidates uniformly and if extra chance is given to last-attempt candidates, other candidates will also start demanding the same, leading to an “endless cycle”, the ASG had added.
The petition was filed by Advocate Anushree Kapadia on behalf of aggrieved students.