As many as 15 UPSC aspirants have moved the Supreme Court seeking an extra attempt at the prestigious examination for them and other similarly-placed candidates, who, they said, have lost precious attempts due to the introduction of Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) in year 2011, which was ‘discriminatory against candidates belonging to the Hindi and other regional language medium’.
The petitioners prayed for a direction to the Centre to allow extra attempts to them and other similarly situated candidates for UPSC examinations who lost their attempts in the year 2012, 2013 and 2014, due to CSAT system, which was declared a qualifying paper only in 2015.
They demanded an extra attempt on the lines of similar relief to be given to UPSC candidates of 2011.
The petition also sought direction to examine the feasibility of CSAT system of examination even as qualifying paper for selection for Union Public Services.
The petitioners hail from Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Haryana, Mumbai, Tripura and Hyderabad and belong to Hindi medium or other regional languages.
“…an aspirant gets only 6 attempts to clear the coveted Civil Services examinations and many among the Petitioners have lost four precious attempts due to mandatory and discriminatory CSAT examinations. Clearing Civil Services examinations is not only a dream job, but it provides the aspirant to serve the nation, which is the aim and ambition of every citizen. The dream seen by the aspirants are shared by their family members and friends and the loss of four precious attempts shatters the dream of all those who dreamt that they or their children will clear the UPSC examinations,” the petitioners said.
In their petition drawn by advocates Anas Tanwir and Yasharth Kant, the court is informed that till 2010, the preliminary exam used to have two papers — general studies and an optional subject where aspirants could choose one of 23 listed subjects.
In 2011, the UPSC decided to replace the optional subject with CSAT, which comprised comprehension, interpersonal skills, including communication skills, logical reasoning and analytical ability, decision-making and problem solving, general mental ability, basic numeracy and English language comprehension skills.
The petitioners said: “This changed syllabus was heavily tilted in favour of those from the Science or, more specifically, Engineering background and was discriminatory against students from Humanities, particularly those who have studied in Hindi-medium or other linguistic backgrounds.”
Following massive protest by UPSC aspirants, in 2015, the Centre declared the CSAT (preliminary) examination to be a qualifying paper only.
It also paid heed to the request of many candidates and allowed an extra attempt to candidates who appeared in Civil Services Examination in 2011, but were ineligible to appear in 2015.
The petitioners contended that the government gave an extra attempt only to the candidates who appeared in the examination in 2011, and not to those who took the exam in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and the same was, therefore, a discriminatory move.
The petition referred to 112 Members of Parliament signing the petition for providing fresh attempts to all civil service aspirants from 2011-15.
The petitioners had also made representations to the Ministry of Department of Personnel and Training, but in vain.
The petitioners herein made a representation to the Department of Personnel and Training, which was rejected vide order dated December 2, 2015. The same was rejected on the ground that candidates who took examination between 2012 and 2014 had substantial time to acquaint themselves with the changed scheme.
“…the candidates who all their life owing to their geographical or financial constraints could not study in English medium schools or opted for humanities cannot be expected to master English language or science in span of one year,” the petition said.
In the petition drawn by Advocate Anas Tanwir Siddiqi it is also submitted that Civil Service examination is a competitive examination and CSAT was more beneficial to the urban background English-speaking science or management students.
“In such case, the aspirants belonging to rural background and regional language medium like the Petitioners herein were treated unfairly and therefore the demand for an extra attempt should have been accepted by the Government as well as Union Public Service Commission,” it said.