28 Jan 2021 7:22 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Thursday rebuked the Centre for filing an Affidavit that was signed by an Under-Secretary in a plea seeking for an extra change for Civil Service aspirants who had given their last attempt in October 2020. A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar heard the matter and expressed their displeasure at the Affidavit not having any information as to at what level the...
The Supreme Court on Thursday rebuked the Centre for filing an Affidavit that was signed by an Under-Secretary in a plea seeking for an extra change for Civil Service aspirants who had given their last attempt in October 2020.
A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar heard the matter and expressed their displeasure at the Affidavit not having any information as to at what level the decision regarding not giving an extra chance to the aspirants was taken. Accordingly, the Centre has been directed to file another Affidavit clarifying the same and the matter will now be heard tomorrow. COURTROOM EXCHANGE In today's hearing, Senior Advocate CU Singh, appearing on behalf of the Petitioners, submitted that the current position in a nutshell was that the students who had to give their last attempt were forced to do so, despite being unprepared, as there was no clarity on the issue. "No clarity had been given on this issue by the government. So, those who had not been able to prepare due to the circumstances, were forced to give it", submitted Singh. At this juncture, Justice Khanwilkar turned to ASG SV Raju and informed him that they had seen his Affidavit and would have preferred it to be filed by a higher official. "It says nothing about at whose level this decision has been taken. It should have been taken at the highest level. It is a policy decision and a one-time exemption. It's a routine Affidavit. Is this the way to do it? You should present something that is presentable. File this properly", said the Bench. Matter will now be heard tomorrow. BACKGROUND On 25th January, the Department of Personnel and Training filed an Affidavit before the Supreme Court submitting that an extra chance would not be provided to candidates who had exhausted all their attempts at giving the UPSC examination. It was contended that provision of an extra chance would create a differential treatment. This was in departure from the previous submission of the Central Government stating that the issue was under "active consideration" and that the government was not adopting an adversarial stance. On 18th December, 2020, Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, had submitted that the Centre was not taking an "adversarial stand" with respect to the plea for extra chance and that a decision in that regard was likely within three or four weeks. The rules might need amendment for granting extra chance, he added.
On September 30, the Supreme Court had directed the Central Government and the Union Public Service Commission to consider granting an extra chance to candidates who otherwise have their last attempt in 2020, with corresponding extension of the upper age-limit.
That direction was given by a Bench led by Justice Khanwilkar in the case Vasireddy Govardhana Sai Prakash v UPSC while rejecting the petitioners' plea to postpone the UPSC exams scheduled in October 2020 in view of the COVID19 pandemic.
The Court directed the authorities to take a decision in that regard "expeditiously".
The relevant observations in the Court order are as follows:
"The fourth point raised before us is that some of the candidates may be giving last attempt and also likely to become age-barred for the next examination, and if such candidates are unable to appear in the examination due to Covid-19 pandemic situation, it would cause great prejudice to them .In this regard, we have impressed upon Mr. S.V.Raju, learned Additional Solicitor General appearing for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to explore the possibility of providing one more attempt to such candidates with corresponding extension of age limit. He has agreed to convey the sentiments of the Court to all concerned and to take a formal decision thereon expeditiously".
On October 26, the Department of Personnel and Training informed the Supreme Court that the issue regarding grant of extra attempt to last chance candidates was under the consideration of the authorities.
Based on that submission, a Bench led by Justice AM Khanwilkar disposed of another petition (Abhishek Anand Sinha v Union of India) observing that it was not appropriate for the Court to pass orders when the matter was under the consideration of the concerned authorities.
"The issue raised in this Writ Petition is under consideration of the appropriate authority and in light of the observations made by this Court in order dated 30.09.2020 in Writ Petition(C) No. 1012 of 2020, needful is being done in the matter. As a result, it may not be appropriate to precipitate the matter further. We leave it to the competent authorities to assuage the grievance of the Petitioners, as brought before this Court in the present Writ Petition appropriately", the Bench observed in the order.
The present petition is filed as a sequel to the above proceedings seeking compensatory extra chance for civil service candidates.