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UPSC Exams : Supreme Court To Deliver Judgment Tomorrow On Plea Seeking Extra Chance For Last Attempt Candidates

Radhika Roy
23 Feb 2021 2:12 PM GMT
UPSC EWS Certificate
[Update at 11.05 AM, February 24 : Supreme Court has dismissed the petition seeking extra chance in UPSC Exams for last attempt candidates]
The Supreme Court will deliver its judgement tomorrow on the petition which seeks an additional chance for those candidates who had exhausted their last attempt in the Civil Service Examination held in October 2020.

On 9th February, 2021, a Bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi
had reserved judgment
in the matter(Rachna v Union of India).

At the final hearing, ASG SV Raju, appearing for the Centre had made submissions against the demand for extra chance and stated that the same was unwarranted as candidates were given sufficient time to prepare for the examination in 2020.

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.

Senior Advocates Shyam Divan, CU Singh and PS Narasimha, appearing for the Petitioners, had submitted that not granting the relaxation in the age-bar was arbitrary and unreasonable.

Earlier, the Centre had agreed to give an extra chance to such last attempt candidates but with a condition that the concession will be subject to age-bar.

The Petitioners and the Intervenors, while welcoming the offer of extra chance, opposed the Centre's decision to confine it only to candidates not hit by the age-bar.

On 5th February, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that the Centre and the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) had agreed to grant a "one-time, restricted relaxation to prospective candidates" who had given their last attempt of the UPSC exam in October 2020, and were not age-barred.

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 that the issue was under "active consideration" and that the government was not adopting an adversarial stance.
However, the Court orally suggested that an extra chance could be given, without necessarily increasing the age-limit.

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 had been filed as a sequel to the above proceedings seeking compensatory extra chance for civil service candidates.

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